Is Fife to miss out on benefits of Exxon fine?

ExonMobile Chemical plant at Mossmorran, Fife. Picture by Jane Barlow

ExonMobile Chemical plant at Mossmorran, Fife. Picture by Jane Barlow

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fife politicians are asking why the money gained from the Mossmorran plant fine has been allowed to leave the Kingdom.

Exxonmobil, one of the largest employers in Fife, was hit with a £2.8 million financial penalty for failing to report over 30,000 tonnes of climate pollution, the highest ever fine for any of this type of offence in British history.

And now it has been revealed that none of the money from the fine will be given directly to causes in Fife, leading to questions being asked as to why the region where the offence took place has been over-looked.

The fine was imposed in 2010/11 for figures dating back to 2008, but was only revealed by environmental watchdog SEPA last week.

The 2.8 million is to be split between five green projects across Scotland;

l The Green Bus Fund

l Peatland restoration pilot projects

l IT costs for SEPA’s Emmission Trading Scheme

l Expansion to a loan scheme for private landlords to make homes more energy efficient

l Development of a heat network in Aberdeen.

ExxonMobil broke EU reporting laws which place strict rules for accurately reporting emissions. Firms found to have misreported greenhouse gas emissions can be fined 100 Euros or £83 for every tonne they miss.

Reporting error

A spokesman for SEPA said: “The Exxon Mobil Chemical Limited case was a reporting error, and the penalty was a mandatory consequence of breaching the EU Emissions Trading Scheme regulations. Unlike prosecution cases, there was no direct environmental impact caused by the error.”

Kirkcaldy MP Gordon Brown said: “I am told that this was a reporting error, and that the penalty was simply a consequence of breaching the EU Emissions Trading Scheme regulations.

Assurance

‘‘I am told that unlike prosecution cases, there was no direct environmental impact caused by Exxon Mobil’s error, and that SEPA was not required to carry out an investigation or report the matter to the Procurator Fiscal.

‘‘But I want to know at first-hand what happened.”

Mr Brown added that he wanted assurances it would not happen again.

Councillor George Kay, chairman of the police, fire and safety committee, said: “I have asked for an early meeting with both the plant management and SEPA in order to seek clarification of the incident.

“I must stress the entire Mossmorran complex has had a very positive impact for over 30 years on the economy of Fife as well as participating in the social and charitable works throughout the Kingdom.”