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Council leader accused of disdain for Mossmorran fears

Mossmorran.
Mossmorran.

A council leader has come under fire for his criticism of ‘over-the-top language’ from those worried about Mossmorran flaring.

Fife Council SNP co-leader David Alexander claimed the tone used was unhelpful as worries were voiced about the health impact and safety of the petrochemical complex near Cowdenbeath.

David Alexander, co-leader of Fife Council

Mr Alexander also dismissed the agreed pursuit of compensation, and said the council should instead seek community benefit from Fife Ethylene Plant operator ExxonMobil Chemical.

Mossmorran Action Group (MAG) accused him of “disdain and contempt” for long-suffering residents.

James Glen.

Chairman James Glen said: “Fife Council passed a motion almost a year ago requiring David Alexander’s administration to take various actions in response to mounting public concern about pollution, health and safety risks at Mossmorran.

“Councillor Alexander betrayed his scandalously undemocratic inclination to ignore this ground-breaking motion, which he has been wholly ineffective in implementing.

“His words reflected nothing but disdain and contempt for the residents forced to suffer Mossmorran for decades.

“He had the gall to write off public concern about the emergency flaring, health impacts which have been recognised by NHS Fife and safety issues which are the subjects of criminal investigations by Sepa and HSE as being due to ‘irresponsible, inflammatory language’.”

In the council chamber, Mr Alexander said: “The tone and over-the-top language we constantly get here doesn’t help anybody.”

Asked when the council was to meet ExxonMobil to discuss compensation, he said: “I think the word compensation rather than community investment will be an issue. When you mention compensation you are talking lawyers. So, I think we have to be reasonable here and we intend to be reasonable.”

Afterwards, he defended his words and said MAG used “sensationalist” language.

The Scottish Green’s energy spokesperson Mark Ruskell stepped into the row.

The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP said: “Communities living in the shadow of Mossmorran are in misery. For the SNP leader of Fife Council to tell us all to be more ‘reasonable’ just doesn’t cut it.

“The council has dithered for years, failing to take concerns about noise, vibration and light pollution as seriously as air quality.

“With a planning application for site expansion coming to Fife Council soon, it needs to re-build faith with its own people rather than kow-towing to corporations.”

Labour co-leader David Ross said a date was yet to be fixed for a meeting with ExxonMobil Chemical.

Environment convener Ross Vettraino stressed that air quality monitoring continued to show that there was no significant risk.

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