Plans for Exxon site take step forward despite warning that it’s a gamble with £ millions of public money

The Exxon site at Bowling is a gamble with taxpayers’ money.

By Bill Heaney

A bid to halt large sums of public money being ploughed into clearing the Bowling site owned by a billionaire multi-national company was thwarted by West Dunbartonshire Council.

Community Party member Cllr Jim Bollan wanted to pull the plug on financing the old Esso terminal which owned by super rich Exxon.

Cllr Bollan pleaded with the SNP/Tory/Independent coalition to withdraw from the current City Deal project – “The site is heavily contaminated with toxic chemicals and materials including asbestos, which will not be removed from the site under the proposed ‘remediation’ process.”

The Renton councillor added: “Until an agreement is reached with the Exxon owners that all the contaminated heavy metal and asbestos is removed from the site, at their cost, then West Dunbartonshire Council should not spend any more public money on this land which is not in council ownership and has already cost local taxpayers in excess of £3 million.”

The Council voted by 20-2 to keep financing the operation on the site which lies on the banks of the River Clyde at Dunglass Castle.

|They are now publicising the fact that refreshed plans for the “transformation” of the former Exxon site have been given the go ahead by Councillors.

The £31.4 million clean-up project includes a proposal to create a major industrial and commercial development at the site as well as plans for a new road to provide an alternative route in and out of West Dunbartonshire.

The only way to go at the moment is through Dumbuck junction, where there are regular hold-ups in traffic.

At a meeting on Wednesday, elected members approved a refreshed Outline Business Case for the site.

They also agreed plans to increase the Council contribution to the development from £3.8million to £4.7million.

Cllr Bollan said: “It’s an awful lot of public money to gamble on something when you don’t know what the final outcome will be. I don’t think we should continue to support this.”

The Outline Business Case will now be presented to the Glasgow City Region Chief Executive Group and subsequently to the Scottish Cabinet for approval in February.

If funding is not made available by the City Region, the Council will invest an additional £6.1 million to the project.

Council officers will now begin negotiations with surrounding landowners regarding the transfer of their land ownership to enable the wider development.

McLaren Clr IainCouncillor Iain McLaren, pictured left, Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “This is a significant step forward in what is likely to be one of the biggest infrastructure improvements in West Dunbartonshire’s history.

“This site is an excellent location for commercial use and with its introduction expected to support up to 690 full-time jobs, this really is a positive decision. I look forward to seeing this ambitious project progress.”

Councillor Marie McNair, Vice Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, added: “It is an exciting time for West Dunbartonshire, and there is clear appetite for this from businesses. This project will bring about real change for the area, not only by supporting extra jobs but by adding the much-needed alternative road route in and out of the area.”

If the Outline Business Case is approved, a Final Business Case will be prepared detailing site design and analysis.  If the Final Business Case is approved, then infrastructure work will begin on the site.

The proposed development is part of the Glasgow City Region City Deal.  The Glasgow City Region City Deal is an agreement between the UK Government, the Scottish Government and eight Local Authorities across Glasgow and the Clyde Valley.

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