Minister accused of ‘hiding’ as Mossmorran concerns continues

July 17 2017, 9.03amUpdated: July 17 2017, 9.38am
© DC Thomson
The flaring caused alarm

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has been accused of hiding behind legislation as the row over Mossmorran escalates.

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Alex Rowley had called for an independent review of Fife Ethylene Plant following days of intense flaring and plume of thick black smoke.

© Supplied
Roseanna Cunningham.

Flaring at the plant left children so afraid that they wet their beds, it has been claimed.

Amid widespread fears over the safety of the plant, he wrote to the Scottish Government raising the concerns of the community.

While understanding the fears, Ms Cunningham replied that she wanted to highlight the importance the Scottish Government and its agencies placed in providing support and assurance to the community.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency had responded to the situation, she said.

However, as a Minister she told Mr Rowley she “must remain distant” from regulatory decisions SEPA made, given ministers could have to take a role in any appeals.

She said SEPA had taken the matter seriously and responded to complaints and was now undertaking a full investigation into the causes of the flaring and appropriate action to avoid a reoccurance.

“Subject to this investigation SEPA will consider what enforcement actions are appropriate,” she told Mr Rowley.

© DC Thomson
Alex Rowley

But the Labour MSP said the cabinet secretary had clearly not answered the request to set up an independent review “deciding instead to hide behind the claim that Ministers must stay distant from regulatory decisions”.

Mr Rowley will not let the matter drop, and said he would now be meeting with SEPA to question what reviews are under way and what powers they have to extend the latest investigation they are carrying out.

“I will also be asking what is their intention for making their findings public as well as the timescale they are working towards,” he added.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are aware of the situation in the area surrounding the Mossmorran complex in Fife and that flaring has stopped.

“SEPA is investigating the situation to consider whether any further controls are required and if enforcement action should be taken.”

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