The Exxon/Esso terminal, tank farm and distribution site at Bowling, which the Council is pouring money into but doesn’t own. Cllrs Bollan and McColl.
By Bill Heaney
West Dunbartonshire Council’s enthusiasm for pouring £ millions of public money into Exxon, one of the world’s richest companies, continues unabated.
This is despite the fact that Exxon has one of the worst records in the country for causing harm to the environment.
The SNP government have embraced completely now the schoolchildren-inspired campaign on climate change to save the earth from choking to death on its own vomit of industrial pollution.
Or it seemed that way when Nicola Sturgeon did a U-turn in the Scottish Parliament last Thursday and dropped an SNP plan to cut airport tax by 50 per cent.
It seems incredible that the allegedly cash-strapped SNP controlled Council here – supported by two Tories and a single Independent – are galloping gaily on down the pollution path.
And putting £5 million into cleaning up the filth left behind at the old Exxon-owned tank farm at Dunglass Castle on the banks of the River Clyde at Bowling.
The plan is for the land to accommodate a new road to by-pass Dumbuck Junction where the A82 Loch Lomondside road splits with the road to Dumbarton and Helensburgh.
A major drawback, apart from the cost and the £5 million investment, is that the Council do not own the land they are cleaning and reclaiming as part of the Glasgow City Region Economic Strategy & Action Plan.
Exxon’s reputation as a major polluter was tarnished further recently when they were forced to issue an apology for their plant at Mossmorran flaring and belching black smoke across Fife.
The flare at the giant petro-chemical plant at Mossmorran was so strong it could be seen for miles and was clearly visible across the Forth.
SEPA, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, which has been keeping a wary eye on Exxon’s operations, said it was aware of the unscheduled flaring.
It is one year since the plant was hit by an unscheduled flaring after a several incidents in 2017 and 2018 led to the plant owners receiving final warnings from the environmental agency.
ExxonMobil, the company West Dunbartonshire Council are giving £5 million to in order to clean up their polluted tank farm at abandoned Esso Bowling, have been named and shamed as one of the “dirty dozen” worst polluters in Scotland.
They are one of those companies that topped the “dirty dozen” pollution league in 2017 along with the Grangemouth petrochemical giant, Ineos, and the oil multinational, Shell.
West Dunbartonshire Council continue to trust them though and have dismissed out of hand a plea from Cllr Jim Bollan at a meeting to discuss austerity and ongoing cuts in public services, to stop gambling with council taxpayers’ cash by giving Exxon yet another £1 million. Labour and Tory councillors supported the SNP.
Cllr Bollan maintained handing over the money was too big a risk since the land in question was not owned by the Council.
The Council, however, voted by 20 votes to just two, to continue to fund the Bowling reclamation work on the basis that it could mean 600 new jobs for this area.
The only dissenters were Cllr Bollan and Bailie Denis Agnew.
West Dunbartonshire Council refuses to take questions from The Democrat about the agreement with Exxon which is said to be “confidential”.
The site was once suggested as a site for a new football stadium for Dumbarton Football Club.
Jim McAloon, who is the Council’s Strategic Lead Regeneration, has submitted a report for next week’s monthly meeting in Church Street.
He states that discussions are continuing with ExxonMobil in relation to the commercial land transaction details, which will be brought before Council for consideration once an agreement in principle has been agreed.
There have been a number of constructive meetings and the Environmental Impact assessment report has now been completed.
This will form part of the submission to members when the commercial aspects of the negotiation are submitted to Council for consideration and will also form part of the planning application (permission in principal) for the overall site development.
A number of engagements with the regulatory authorities have taken place and it is anticipated the planning application will be submitted for consideration in late summer of 2019.
The Council has met with all third party landowners and discussions are progressing as planned and will progress in parallel with Council’s negotiations with ExxonMobil.
There are a number of senior officers involved in the City Region initiative across services of the Council and as part of the project board.
The financial implications statement says the Council approved refreshed Outline Business Case for the Exxon project has an overall budget requirement of £34.050m.
The expenditure for the City Deal project for 2018/19 was £0.233m. As at 30 April 2019 the total project Capital expenditure was £1.477m.
The approved budget expenditure for the City Deal Exxon project remains at £2.948m.
The risk analysis states there are a number of project risks associated with the development at the ExxonMobil project site and these are contained within the risk register of the refreshed OBC.