A meeting to bring all Mossmorran’s key players, community groups and politicians together has been hailed as “largely positive”.
The talks were hosted by Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath Labour MP Lesley Laird and brought together politicians from across the political spectrum, community groups, operators ExxonMobil Chemical and Shell UK and health experts, as well as the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
James Glen, the chairman of Mossmorran Action Group, said there was now a real political will across parties to look at how the Mossmorran complex had been affecting neighbouring communities for the last 30 years.
“Today for the first time ExxonMobil and Shell were forced to stop denying some of the environmental, social and health impacts on local people which their operations are causing,” he added.
“Today saw the first baby steps in what we hope will be a new long-term commitment to engage with affected communities by investigating their concerns.”
Mrs Laird paid tribute to the participation of community campaigners, saying they had approached the meeting in a constructive way, “despite years of frustration”.
She added: “It was also encouraging to hear Shell and ExxonMobil’s willingness to engage with the community and address their concerns.”
She said a number of key questions remained to be answered around issues such as health, the condition and maintenance of the plant, the collection of data during flaring and an assessment of the cumulative impact of light and air pollution as well as noise vibration.
“This is simply a starting point – these issues will not be fixed overnight – but others, such as communication between Mossmorran and communities can be progressed quickly,” she said.
“The meeting clearly showed that doing business in a certain way has long since gone, and shone a light on the fact that all parties connected to Mossmorran need to do better in terms of engaging and working with communities.”
Kirkcaldy SNP MSP David Torrance agreed the meeting was “extremely constructive”.
“The effect on communities during these flaring events cannot be underestimated, and cannot be ignored; the bright light and associated noise during these events can be heard several miles away from the plant,” he said.
Mid Scotland and Fife Green MSP Mark Ruskell also hailed the positive nature of the meeting.
However, he added: “I think there is still a need for greater transparency coming from the companies.
“There was a fair bit of positivity to come out of the workshop but at the end of the day a very positive workshop is great but we need to see action.”
A second meeting will be held in the summer.