Will SNP leader McColl do another U-turn on decision to fund Exxon clean up of derelict Esso Bowling?

The Esso site on the banks of the Clyde at Bowling; Cllr McColl; Bailie Agnew; Cllr Bollan; David Attenborough and First Minister Sturgeon.

By Bill Heaney

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced she is passionate about climate change …

Which must make it reasonable for the public to ask why the SNP-run West Dunbartonshire Council has got into bed with the notorious Exxon oil company.

And now plans to spend £millions with them.

Exxon, a rich, megalithic global conglomerate, was this week said to be about to be called before a Senate committee in the US to explain its attitude to climate change, which is not helpful to global warming.

President Donald Trump may consider that climate change is a myth, but the recently bolstered Democrats see it as a key plank in their policies.

The Council is ploughing local taxpayers’ money into a reclamation project at the polluted former Esso tank farm on the banks of the Clyde at Bowling.

That project is part of the Glasgow City Region Deal Infrastructure programme which equates to £1.3 BILLION of investment for 20 projects over a ten-year period.

The Dumbarton Democrat has reported elsewhere in this issue the debate at full council on Wednesday when a move by Community Party councillor Jim Bollan to abandon the Exxon project was crushed by an overwhelming vote in favour of it.

The Exxon tank farm at Bowling; the Esso jetty and Dumbarton Rock; Dunglass Castle at Bowling and a typical Exxon site.

Cllr Bollan said the Council were custodians of the public purse and therefore he considered it inappropriate for them to be making taxpayers’ money to a private monopoly, which had wrapped the terms of the agreement up in a confidentiality clause.

It was akin to gambling with £millions without any guarantee of what the outcomes would be at the end of day, he added, seconded by Bailie Denis Agnew, the lone Independent.

The SNP leader, Cllr Jonathan McColl, led the praise for the project.

Although members of all parties supported the scheme which the Council hopes will bring 600 jobs to West Dunbartonshire in the long term.

They believe it will also open up land for a new road providing an alternative route into and out of Dumbarton from the A82 Glasgow-Loch Lomond road and traffic choked Dumbuck junction.

Nicola Sturgeon’s passion for the battle against global warming was revealed at First Minister’s Question when she replied to Dumbarton man Patrick Harvie MSP, joint leader of the Green Party.

She said: “I thank Patrick Harvie for raising this issue. It is, as David Attenborough said so eloquently in Poland earlier this week, the biggest issue faced by the world and the whole of humanity.

“I do not criticise the Greens for challenging us to go further; it is right that they do so. Every single day, we challenge ourselves to go further and, indeed, to go as far as we possibly can as fast as we possibly can.

“When I was in Poland earlier this week—the environment secretary will be there early next week—I was struck again by the fact that experts from many other countries and the United Nations, who are not susceptible to Government spin on this issue and know exactly what we are doing in Scotland, think that we are leading the world and acting in line with the Paris commitments.”

Earlier this year, Laurent Fabius described the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill as a “concrete application of the Paris Agreement”.

More problems – Dunglass Castle on the Bowling site could have listed building status. Pictures by Kevin Doherty

The First Minister added: “That praise is based not just on the headlines of the targets in the bill, which are carbon neutrality by 2050 and obligations on us to get to net zero for all greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as we feasibly can, but on the more rigorous approach that we are taking to meeting those targets.

“We are the only country in the world with annual statutory targets and one of the few countries to include aviation and shipping and, of course, there is our emphasis on domestic effort instead of international credits.

“However, we want to go further and we are anxious to do so. That is why we have asked the United Kingdom Committee on Climate Change to provide updated advice before Parliament votes on the bill. That advice, which will be on not just the long-term targets but the nearer-term targets, will be available to all members.

“It is right that we continue to debate this and to challenge ourselves and each other, but nobody—absolutely nobody—should doubt Scotland’s ambition and commitment to continuing to be a world leader on this most serious of moral obligations.”

The Democrat asked SNP-controlled West Dunbartonshire Council if they, in light of the revelations about Exxon over the past few days, will now reconsider their decision to give cash support to the company, but their communications department refuses to take questions from us.


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