LOCHGELLY residents are demanding action after claims they're facing "unacceptable" noise levels.

Community campaigner James Glen said the Scottish Environment Protection Agency had "dragged its feet" after it found and failed to act on volumes in 2014 that repeatedly breached World Health Organisation guidelines.

He said: "We know people in Lochgelly are being exposed to excessive noise, but Sepa has been powerless to act because it doesn't know who the culprit is."

And Mr Glen urged the environmental watchdog to monitor the petrochemical plant at Mossmorran amid claims of excessive industrial noise levels from daily plant operations and recent flaring events.

The former chair of Lochgelly Community Council said: “The recent planned and unplanned flaring exacerbates the noise problems residents face.

"Regular exposure to noise like this can cause hearing impairment, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, annoyance and sleep disturbance, yet very little has been done for over a quarter of a century to protect residents from this public nuisance."

The Mossmorran complex consists of the ExxonMobil Fife Ethylene Plant and the Shell Fife Natural Gas Liquids site.

Mr Glen added: "Sepa have known since 2014 that residents are faced with regular exposure to elevated sound levels after conducting continuous monitoring from a property in Lochgelly for 22 days.”

A complaint from a resident in South Street about suspected environmental noise led to a domestic monitoring system being deployed from August 15 to September 5 2014.

Sepa's report said potential sources of noise from Mossmorran included flaring, cooling fans, process furnaces, gas turbine, steam boilers, loading and unloading of materials and vehicle movements.

It said other possible sources of noise in the vicinity included the A92 road and the Little Raith windfarm.

The study found that World Health Organisation guidelines for community noise were breached 19 times out of 22 during the day and 11 times out of 21 at night.

However, it added that the system measured all noise, including traffic, and as a result it was "not clear" who was ultimately responsible for the breaches. It recommended more tests in the area, including at the wind farm.

The study also found several breaches of Department for Environmental Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) guidelines on low frequency noise but, again, it was "difficult to determine" what if anything was attributable to Mossmorran.

Exxon/Mobil recently announced that their plant would shut down for three weeks, from Friday September 16, for maintenance.

They added that flaring – the burning of natural gas that cannot be processed or sold – would take place and a large orange flame has since been visible for miles around.

Mr Glen said the shutdown gave the environmental watchdog "a golden opportunity" to conduct monitoring and establish Mossmorran's contribution to noise in the area.

He said two households in Lochgelly and one in Auchtertool were willing to take part and added: "Residents have come forward to assist Sepa and I hope Sepa will grasp this opportunity.”

A spokesperson for Sepa said: "We are aware that a number of concerns have been raised by local residents following recent flaring at the petrochemical facility near Mossmorran.

"We take these concerns very seriously and a number of meetings have taken place with complainants to understand their individual experiences with excessive noise.

"Sepa will be in the local area over the coming weeks to allow the noise levels to be assessed which will help to identify if any further noise monitoring requires to be carried out."

Residents can call Sepa's pollution hotline on 0800 80 70 60 if they have any further concerns about the flaring.