About the historic timeline

The timeline of events listed below records the development history of Braefoot Bay terminal and the NGL and Ethylene cracker plant developments proposed for the Mossmorran site. The data was sourced from the document “Decision Case Study: United Kingdom, Mossmorran-Braefoot Bay” available as a download on this page which goes into greater detail of how the facilities were approved for the Mossmorran area in Central Fife. Additional data has been collated from online sources.

  • 1971

    Brent oil and gas field discovered
  • February 1976

    Planning application submitted by Shell for NGL plant at Peterhead and called in by Secretary of State.
  • May 1976

    Public inquiry into the NGL plant application at Peterhead begun but adjourned in June at the request of Shell (unsuitable harbour conditions)
  • July 1976

    Shell/Esso contact Fife local authorities (Kirkcaldy District Council & Dunfermline District Council) to discuss the potential of Mossmorran to accommodate NGL plant and Ethylene cracker
  • October 1976

    Dalgety Bay residents association reported to have alerted local population to the hazard potential of the plants. Concern also voiced over yachting and other amenities, environment and ecology (Scotsman - 28/10/76) Local district and regional councillors voice approval.
  • November 1976

    Aberdour Ratepayers Association are instructed by their members to protest to the Secretary of State in the strongest possible terms. Concern expressed over yachting and marine safety.

    Shell withdraw their NGL plant application for the site at Peterhead, and declare intention to submit the application instead for the Mossmorran-Braefoot Bay sites. Local government leaders unanimously welcome the plan (Scotsman - 10/11/76), since potential employment benefits will far outweigh the environmental costs.

    Opposition to the proposals from Aberdour and Dalgety Bay grows, with fears voiced on safety, scepticism expressed on job prospects, doubts raised about 'independence' of local authorities in adequately addressing hazard and environmental impact, cynicism expressed over relevance of Public Inquiries.

  • December 1976

    There is said to be a $500m 10 year contract for Shell to supply propane and butane to North America.

    Shell and Esso, encouraged by the local authorities, held public meetings in Dalgety Bay (10th), Cowdenbeath (13th), Aberdour (14th), to explain their proposals.

    Conservation Society call for a planning inquiry commission.

  • January 1977

    Esso declare intention to submit planning application for ethylene cracker at Mossmorran and assocxiated pipeline facilities to and berthing facilities at Braefoot Bay.

    The Fife local authorities brief Cremer and Warner (private independent consultants) to report on the hazard and environmental impact of the Shell/Esso proposals

    Shell and Esso, encouraged by the local authorities, hold public meeting in Auchtertool (10th).

    Shell formally submit planning applications for n.g.l. plant application to Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy District Council (20th).

  • February 1977

    (7th) Secretary of State 'calls in' the planning application for the NGL plant.

    (24th) Esso formally submit ethylene cracker application to Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy District Council.

    Aberdour Ratepayers and Dalgety Bay Residents Associations combine t o form a Joint Action Group to fight the proposals. They re-direct earlier fears to the Scottish Development Department and ask, formally, for a Planning Inquiry Commission (since the call in, the development control authority for the proposals).

  • March 1977

    (1st) The Secretary of State "calls in" the ethylene cracker application

    (21st) Esso submit a planning application for the downstream development of the rest of the Mossmorran site

  • April 1977

    (5th) The Secretary of State 'calls in' the planning application for downstream industrial development.

    Public exhibitions are held by Shell, Esso and local authorities in Dalgety Bay and Auchtertool to explain their proposals in greater detail.

    (18th) Meeting of Kirkcaldy District Council agrees that the 'balance of advantage' lies in approving the gas plant applications.

    Joint Action Group ask Scottish Development Department to discuss with them possible alternative sites for the proposals. Little reaction. Objectors consider odds to be stacked against them.

  • May 1977

    (6th) The Scottish Development Department announce that a Public Inquiry into all three applications is to open in Dunfermline, 13th June 1977.

    Cremer and Warner Hazard and Environmental Impact Report is received by the local authorities.

    The local authorities issue their joint report describing the proposals and assessing their potential economic, land-use, environmental and hazard impact.

    (31st) Action Group mount exhibition in Edinburgh to publicise danger of plant.

    (31st) A meeting of Dunfermline District Council officially approves the planning applications in principle (subject to a number of planning conditions).

    (31st) A meeting of Fife Regional Council officially approves the planning applications in principle (subject to a number of planning conditions).

  • June 1977

    (4th) The Inquiry Reporter (Mr. Bell) hblds a pre-Inquiry meeting in Dunfermline to decide a suitable order for and timing of the cases by the various parties. Also to ask for advance written statements from the main parties. Local authority representatives visit Stenungsund.

    (10th) Joint Action Group ask for a further postponement of the Inquiry. Not granted.

    (27th) Public Inquiry opens.

  • July 1977

    (21st) Public Inquiry closes.
  • November 1977

    Inquiry Reporter submits his summary of the Inquiry Proceedings and his conditional recomendation of approval to the Secretary of State.

    Secretary of State, in answer to a question raised in Parliament, said that he expected to announce his decision before the end of the year.

  • January 1978

    (24th) Joint Action Group raise the issue of radio-spark ignition hazard (in a letter to Secretary of State)
  • March 1978

    (6th) Health and Safety Executive reply to the issue of radio-spark ignition hazard, stating the view that "there is certainly no need for planning permission to be held up on this count."

    (29th) Secretary of State announces his provisional view that planning permission should be granted, subject to a range of conditions, but asked for further representations from parties on the issue of possible hazards from radio transmissions. These representations were t o be made within 28 days.

  • April 1978

    (21st) Cremer and Warner report to the Fife local authorities on the question of radio transmissions hazard.

    Representations received by the Secretary of State on the issue of possible hazards from radio transmissions sent to the Health and Safety Executive as they arrived.

  • June 1978

    (2nd) The Court of Session in Edinburgh rules that a report on radio-spark ignition hazards (The Excel1 Report) held by the Scottish Development Department should be released to the Action Group.
  • July 1978

    Health and Safety Executive's report on radio hazards sent to the Secretary of State.
  • August 1978

    (2nd) The Health and Safety Executive report, together with other representations received on radio transmissions, are circulated by the Scottish Development Department to all parties, who were given an opportunity to make further representations by 4th September.
  • September 1978

    (8th) Comments were received from objectors criticising the Health and Safety Executive Report. Objectors applied to the Court of Session for an extension of the time limit set in August for further representations following refusal by the Secretary of State to allow additional time.

    (25th) Secretary of State extended the time limit for further comment until 24th October, and the Action Group agreed to withdraw the Court application upon payment by the Secretary of State of the Group's legal costs.

  • October 1978

    The further representations received on radio-transmissions made it necessary to obtain further information from the Health and safety Executive.
  • January 1979

    A Fife Councillor estimates the delay in decision to be costing the nation £200 million a year.

    'Shipping hazards', a quantitative assessment of the marine hazards at the Braefoot Bay terminal, is published by the Action Group

  • March 1979

    (12th) New material from the Health and Safety Executive is circulated t o parties, who are given until 18th April to make further comnent on the radio-transmission question.
  • April 1979

    Further material from the Health and Safety Executive resulting from questions raisedby the objectors is circulated to parties.
  • May 1979

    (3rd) General election and change of national government; the Labour minister Bruce Millan is succeeded by the conservative minister, George Younger, as Secretary of State for Scotland.

    Short parliamentary debate on Mossmorran.

  • June 1979

    (8th) Further'material from the Health and Safety Executive resulting from questions raised by the objectors is circulated to parties.

    (19th) Representatives from the Action Group go to London to present their case directly to MP's at Westminster. Few attend.

  • August 1979

    (9th) The Secretary of State gives his approval to the developments, i.e., grants outline planning permission, subject to a large number of conditions.
  • October 1979

    Action group lodge an appeal with the Court of Session against the validity of the decision of the Secretary of State, on the ground that it was not within the powers of Section 32(1) of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972
  • December 1979

    Parliamentary debate on safety aspects of Mossmorran-Braefoot Bay initiated; abandoned for exceeding time limits.
  • February 1980

    (14th) Court of Session reject Action Group's appeal against the Secretary of State
  • March 1980

    Esso lodge planning application to build ethylene cracker at an alternative location within the Mossmorran site.

    Construction work on the ngl plant commences

  • October 1980

    Esso announce firm intention to proceed with the construction of the ethylene cracker

    Public Inquiry into St. Fergus-Mossmorran pipeline