A SURVEY carried out in communities of the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area by ExxonMobil has been branded 'propaganda' by the of the Mossmorran Action Group.

The survey was carried out towards the end of 2018 and was a face-to-face survey of 200 residents within Crossgates, Hill of Beath, Cowdenbeath, Lumphinnans, Lochgelly, Cardenden, Auchtertool, Burntisland, Aberdour and Dalgety Bay. Of course it was conducted before the recent flaring episode which caused such a stir in the area.

The survey came up with points such as • Universal awareness of the company and plant, and what it does BUT perceptions differ for different types of stakeholders.

• Overall seen as “reputable”, “respected” company, with safeguards and standards in place.

• However, view that company needs to build trust with the community, regarding emissions and flaring.

• Perception that communications and community engagement is sometimes seen as “retrospective crisis management” and possibly not proactive enough in terms of building relationships and ongoing conversations with stakeholders

• Higher levels of awareness regarding flaring among opinion formers – key concerns encompass light, noise vibrations, and environmental impact

“it has a huge impact on the local environment;” “In many ways Exxon is a good neighbour but when you see the flaring it becomes negative”

• View that ExxonMobil response to flaring has been improved in recent years, with less use of technical language – however, still room for improvement in terms of engaging with the media proactively. “Exxon communicated well during the flaring….but it took ages to sort.”

• Often share information and impact statements regarding flaring through their communications – sometimes puts some stakeholders in a difficult situation.

James Glen, chair of the Mossmorran Action Group said this week: "No one will be surprised that ExxonMobil got the results they paid for. The survey is pure propaganda.

"What will shock people is that the Mossmorran Liaison Committee accepted the results without a murmur to the contrary. Its community representatives are so out of touch, they could be living on another planet".

Mr Glen added: "The minutes of the last meeting of the Safety & Liaison Committee show once and for all that it is completely unfit for purpose. It is dominated and controlled by Shell and ExxonMobil.

"Only one Fife councillor out of four even bothered to show up to the last meeting. If councillors and community representatives had a shred of integrity, they would denounce the committee as failing their communities and call for a radical overhaul.

"Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP, Lesley Laird’s working group has also been clear that the committee is not representative, is not trusted and needs reform. Its meetings are closed to the public, and its minutes published belatedly or sometimes not at all.

"Since the Liaison Committee comes under the auspices of Fife Council, MAG will be seeking an urgent meeting with Council leaders to abolish the existing committee and establish a new community forum on Mossmorran which is properly representative, publicly accountable and not open to manipulation by the operators."