'THE devastating effect of flaring at Mossmorran on the community simply cannot be understated. Night after night people’s lives are being disrupted by insufferable noise and light coming from the plant. The anger from those affected is being compounded by the Environment Secretary’s stubborn refusal to seriously engage with the people who are suffering.

The current bout of flaring has come as a result of the Fife Ethylene Plant re-starting following a shutdown last year. Already it’s been severe and gone on far longer than we were promised. It’s a story that repeats itself far too often. For years now ExxonMobil have promised that improvements are coming, SEPA have said they’re serious about enforcement and the Cabinet Secretary has claimed she’s listening to concerns.

Yet here we are again, and once again the attitude of the Scottish Government amounts to an abdication of responsibility. The last time Roseanna Cunningham faced questions from MSPs, in Holyrood, I asked her if she would agree to convene a round the table discussion this summer with protestors planning a Climate Camp, members of the local community, the plant operators and local elected representatives to discuss the future.

To my mind asking the minister responsible for the Environment to come and meet people affected by Scotland’s second largest industrial polluter would be considered by some as the bare minimum requirement of the role. Mossmorran is the second largest climate polluter in Scotland, so it’s unthinkable that we can meet a net-zero target without either a massive change in its operation or the plant closing within the next decade.

Her response to my request was, to say the least, disappointing. Once again, a simple request was met with evasion and deflection.

There is so much more Government should be doing. I have repeatedly called for an independent health inquiry but this has now stalled. NHS Fife’s preliminary study last year concluded that Mossmorran could ‘plausibly effect health in its widest sense’, we need to be getting to the bottom of the impact the plant has on the surrounding community. Government also refuses to give SEPA more powers over regulating light pollution and vibration.

The Government’s attitude is an affront to the long-suffering communities around Mossmorran. It is an attitude which has contributed to a near complete, and understandable, breakdown in trust between the community and those in charge of operating and monitoring the plant.

As we move to urgently slash carbon emissions in response to the climate emergency, the phrase “just transition” is often a buzzword for Government. But it has to mean much more than that. Government Ministers simply can’t begin the process of a just transition until there has been a full and frank conversation about the future of the plant. There has to be a plan in place now that ensures no worker is left behind but also protects in the interests of the people living around Mossmorran. The status quo stopped being an option a long time ago'.