Calls for Fife to reject gas plants over toxic air pollution fears

Villagers in Fife have renewed calls to stop the building of two new gas peaking plants due to fears over toxic air pollution and their impact on the planet.

Hillend in Fife is in a valley, which means fog - and pollution - can linger

Fife Council is due to discuss plans for the schemes, at Inverkeithing and Hillend, over the next few days.

But campaigners say they should not be located near Hillend due to its landscape, which would allow poisonous pollutants from the plants to build up and engulf the village under certain conditions.

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The prospective site sits in a valley below the village, which due to its topography is prone to temperature inversion – which causes fog – and any pollutants carried in the air – to accumulate.

“Our concern is twofold,” said Ian Wragg, of the Hillend Action Group.

“Firstly there is the effect on air quality due to emissions of nitrogen oxides, which are particularly harmful to children and people with other health problems.

“I have a five-year-old son who’s asthmatic and I worry about the impact the toxic NOx emissions will have on his breathing.

“Secondly there is the potential hypocrisy after the council declared a climate emergency. These plants will extend reliance on fossil fuels and accelerate climate change through additional carbon emissions.”

A planning application for the Hillend scheme was rejected last year after NHS Fife and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) raised concerns over the potential risk to air quality and health.

But the decision was appealed by the developer, Gas Generation Growforth, and is due to be reviewed on Monday.

A separate application from Belleknowes Generation for a similar plant in Inverkeithing, less than a mile from the Hillend site, is being considered by the central and west planning committee today.

It has been recommended for approval but has attracted 36 letters of objection from the public.

Mark Ruskell, Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, is backing the villagers.

“These two applications for gas power plants so close together could have a significant impact on the air quality for the local community in Hillend and the surrounding area,” he said.

“Sepa have recognised this concern too, and councillors need to uphold the recommendation of the planning officials to reject this wholly unsuitable proposal.”

He added: “The idea that we are building new fossil fuel plants right when we need to be decarbonising our whole energy system is preposterous.”