FMQs: Mossmorran flaring effect on health could lead to compensation

Flaring at gas plant Mossmorran has been found to affect people's health.
Flaring at gas plant Mossmorran has been found to affect people's health.
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Nicola Sturgeon has agreed to investigate if compensation should be paid to those who have suffered ill health as a result of pollution from the Mossmorran gas plant.

Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell, secured a commitment from the First Minister to look at compensation, after a report on the health impacts of flaring at the gas plant, showed it had caused significant physical and psychological disturbance to local residents, impacting on their health, sleep patterns and anxiety levels.

NHS Fife said it had assessed 900 complaints to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency following five days of "unplanned flaring" in April by Exxonmobil at Mossmorran.

READ MORE: Mossmorran: 1,400 complaints this year over Fife plant's flaring

In its report on the potential health effects of the flaring on residents living nearby, NHS Fife described "a considerable degree of physical and psychological disturbance caused to people in the vicinity of Mossmorran."

Asked in Holyrood if affected residents could expect compensation, Ms Sturgeon promised to “consider the evidence Mark Ruskell has presented here today and do so, as we would always seek to do so, in consultation with local communities”.

Speaking afterwards, Mark Ruskell said: “This report is clear that pollution from Mossmorran has had an impact on local residents, so I’m delighted that the Scottish Government has now agreed to consider its findings and look into compensation.

“Everyone has the right to live a peaceful existence in their own home, but this is something local residents in Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly, and surrounding villages have been denied for some time now. This report means their concerns can no longer be passed off as hype or hysteria, and must be taken seriously by the plant operators and all the agencies involved.”

"Compensation should be part of a full, independent investigation into the health and social impacts of Mossmorran, the second biggest polluter in Scotland.”

The NHS report comes after Sepa received a total of 1,400 complaints regarding the Mossmorran site, which is also shared by Shell, since the start of 2019. NHS Fife said the most frequently cited health concerns related to sensory perception (disturbing amounts of noise, bright light and black smoke during flaring activity).

Complainants also cited respiratory conditions including asthma, wheezing and breathing difficulties while others experienced sleep disturbance, headaches, nausea and anxiety.

READ MORE: Local families ‘living in fear’ that Scottish gas plant could explode
A health spokeswoman said their report concluded that the overall impact of flaring on locals in recent years had "not been acceptable and could plausibly affect their health in the widest sense."

Exxonmobil has said it now has a plan in place to reduce flaring.