COWDENBEATH'S MSP has made it plain that she is going to keep a close eye on what happens at Mossmorran over the coming months in terms of flaring.

Annabelle Ewing made her observation when it was announced by SEPA that its investigation into a number of unplanned flaring events at the Mossmorran Complex during 2017 and 2018 had come to an end.

Speaking on Wednesday Ms Ewing said: “There are a number of key issues to take away from the outcome of this investigation into a series of unplanned flaring incidents by both ExxonMobil and Shell UK at the Mossmorran complex.

"The incidents between June 2017 and May 2018 occurred in both parts of the complex but mostly within the part operated by ExxonMobil.

“Firstly, I note that progress is being made on the requirement on the two companies to carry out Best Available Technique assessments to prevent and, where that is not practicable, reduce emissions of noise, vibration and smoke associated with flaring. These assessments are to be finalised by this April.

"I welcome both this approach and the statement that both operators must continue their commitment to implementing Best Available Techniques".

She added: “Further, I note that SEPA appears content that the ‘robust enforcement action’ it has taken is currently appropriate and effective.

"Now, I suspect my constituents may have certain reservations about that statement - certainly as far as past incidents are concerned where issues arose regarding compliance, lack of behavioural change on part of ExxonMobil in particular, apparent failure to prevent or reduce risk of harm by unplanned flaring.

“So, the jury is still out on that one and the proof of the pudding will be seen both in the manner in which any future unplanned flaring incidents are handled by ExxonMobil and Shell UK and whether SEPA will indeed be ready to intervene promptly and at its own initiative".

Ms Ewing concluded: “SEPA states that a forward programme for environmental monitoring is being discussed with operators and partner organisations.

"We certainly need more information regarding what precisely is proposed here as my constituents need to be assured that there will be a new approach going forwards.

“SEPA and the complex operators really do need to demonstrate to the local community that their concerns are being addressed and being taken seriously. Words are all well and good but action needs to be evident.

“The issue of unplanned flaring and the impact it has on the local community is one in which I have taken a close interest. I visited the Shell complex at Mossmorran this week and am attempting to arrange a further visit to ExxonMobil which I hope will be arranged in the very near future.

“I have written to the Chief Executive of SEPA seeking a meeting to discuss Mossmorran, and I intend to raise the issue in the Scottish Parliament at Portfolio Questions next week and I will continue to monitor closely all developments associated with it.”

Jacob McAlister, plant manager at the Fife Ethylene Plant, said: “ExxonMobil Chemical welcomes the update from SEPA, which acknowledges our continued commitment to minimise flaring at the plant. While instances of flaring – a vital operational procedure – are relatively infrequent, we absolutely understand the potential disturbance they can cause.

“Our highly skilled employees have worked tirelessly to address and correct the root cause of past events, and are committed to identifying further operational and technology solutions to reduce light and noise intrusion.

“Furthermore, only this month we safely completed a key piece of engineering maintenance without the need for flaring. This demonstrated our commitment to planning and executing work in a way that ensures the safety of our employees and our surrounding communities, as well as protection of the environment.”