The Exxon site on the banks of the River Clyde at Bowling in West Dunbartonshire.

By Bill Heaney

A major industrial and commercial development, which could involve a significant jobs boost for West Dunbartonshire, took another step forward this week when it was approved by City Deal officials.

Planning permission for the site at the old Esso Bowling oil terminal on the banks of the River Clyde off the A82 at Milton has already been granted by West Dunbartonshire Council.

And the cash-strapped local authority, who imposed widespread cuts and increases in council tax this year,  has promised to come up with £6 million towards clearing it.

The site which was badly polluted when it was a tank farm and terminal was rejected as a possible football stadium for Dumbarton FC.

In the interim there was also long-running concern from Milton resident Sandra Dick because the council had failed to come up with an alternative piece of land on which her ponies grazed.

That problem was solved – eventually.

Now the Council says the full business case for the £44 million project was submitted to the Glasgow City Region Cabinet this week.

It outlined how the ExxonMobil site in Bowling will be transformed into a mixed-use development, with storage, distribution, industrial, business and office space.

The project will also include a number of road improvements connecting to the site, including the addition of a 1.95km relief road through West Dunbartonshire.

Of the 150 acre site, 47 acres is planned for development, with green network and green infrastructure enhancements including a waterfront pedestrian and cycle path being proposed.

In addition, a heritage area has been identified around listed structure Dunglass Castle, where the wife of the famous architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh once lived.

Following the final seal of approval, which will now most likely have to wait for final approval from the Scottish Government, West Dunbartonshire Council well now be able to progress with the project.

It is estimated that it will will create up to 980 full time jobs as well as an additional 660 jobs during the construction stage.

It is expected to bring £43.8 million of additional private investment, and £520.8 million net additional GVA by 2037, although that is viewed by some to be an optimistic estimate.

Council Leader, Councillor Martin Rooney, said: “This approval from the City Region cabinet brings us another step closer to delivering on this hugely ambitious project, which will benefit our area for years to come.

“This project is expected to bring a huge amount of jobs in our area, as well as a return 26 times greater than our investment, which will be fantastic for West Dunbartonshire and the City Region as a whole.

“Residents will also see the benefits of a site which has been lying idle for years coming back into productive use, as well as the introduction of a much-needed relief road, providing an alternative route for traffic between Milton Junction and Dunglass Roundabout, and public access to greenspace areas at the site.”

Detailed plans will go to a future Planning Committee for consideration, so there are significant hurdles still to be overcome, not least that a change of Government at both Eestminster and Holyrood appears to be in the pipeline.

Tory Lord Offord, Labour council leader Martin Rooney and SNP Minister Neil Gray.

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.

SNP Scottish Government Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray said: “I welcome this significant step forward in a project which could, upon completion, release millions of pounds of private investment and create jobs.

“This progress is another example of the valuable work conducted with Scottish Government support through the Glasgow City Region City Deal.”

Conservative UK Government Minister for Scotland [Lord] Malcolm Offord said: “These transformative plans for the ExxonMobil site will bring jobs and investment, drive economic renewal and deliver green infrastructure that will benefit the community for years to come.

“The UK Government is investing £12 million [just half of what West Dunbartonshire Council has promised]  in the project, and more than £850 million in levelling up across the Glasgow City Region with new initiatives like the Investment Zone and Innovation Accelerator.”

One comment

  1. A £27m project on heavily contaminated land has rocketed to £44m. Could only happen under Labour controlled WDC while services and jobs are slashed.

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