Moss/Morran (Petrochemical Project)

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19 April 1978.

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Photo of Mr Harry Gourlay Mr Harry Gourlay , Kirkcaldy 12:00, 19 April 1978

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received about the Moss/Morran project since he announced his decision on the report of the public inquiry, giving provisional support to the planning application.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Central Fife

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received in the last three months against the projected petrochemical complex at Moss Morran, near Cowdenbeath, and what replies he has made.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Bruce Milan):

I have received over 100 letters in the last three months containing representations against the proposed petrochemical complex at Moss Morran. Of these, six have been received since my letter of 29th March, which indicated on a provisional basis the decision that I am minded to issue. All representations have been acknowledged only, since I have still to reach my final decision on the planning applications concerned.

Photo of Mr Harry Gourlay Mr Harry Gourlay , Kirkcaldy

In spite of those objections, the vast majority of people in Fife welcome my right hon. Friend's provisional support for the project at Moss Morran. Once the issue of the radio mast has been settled and my right hon. Friend decides to give his final approval for this project, will he do everything possible to ensure that the oil companies utilise the site to the full, thus ensuring that the maximum number of jobs are made available to the area?

Mr. Milan:

On the latter point, I refer my hon. Friend to what is said in the provisional note that I sent out. He will appreciate that it is difficult for me to say anything beyond that, because I have still to reach a final decision on this application and I am still receiving representations—at least the time is still open for them—about radio transmissions. I cannot give a final decision until I have considered those representations.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Central Fife

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the three Labour-controlled authorities—the Fife Regional Council and the Dumfermline and Kirk- caldy districts—are most anxious that a speedy decision is reached on this matter? What is the attitude of the Forth Ports Authority and of the Health and Safety Commission to the matter?

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

I cannot add to what was said in the report of the inquiry, which has been made available to the parties concerned. I assure my hon. Friend that when I have considered these further representations on radio transmissions there will be no undue delay in my reaching a final decision.

Photo of Mr Alick Buchanan-Smith Mr Alick Buchanan-Smith , Angus North and Mearns

What are the implications of the right hon. Gentleman's decisions so far in relation to the pipeline from Aberdeenshire to Fife, which will service the refinery, in view of the strong local objections to it? When will the Health and Safety Executive report be available on this matter? There is great concern about the safety of the pipeline.

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

That is a separate matter. Pipeline authorisation is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy. It is not possible for me to say much about it. I am, however, aware of the hon. Gentleman's views. I have had representations, for example, from the NFU and I have offered it a meeting with my officials to discuss some of the problems of laying pipelines across agricultural land.

Photo of Mr George Reid Mr George Reid , Stirlingshire East and Clackmannan

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall representations being made from the petrochemical industry about the shortage of instrument mechanics in the Forth Valley, and potentially at Moss Morran? Does the Secretary of State realise how serious the situation is? What is he doing to increase training facilities, and when does he expect the report of the Manpower Services Commission on the subject to be published?

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

If the decision were to be that this project should go ahead, matters of that sort would be relevant. If the hon. Gentleman reads the report, he will see that some of these questions of labour supply are dealt with extensively.

Photo of Mr David Lambie Mr David Lambie , Ayrshire Central

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his good decision to give the go-ahead for the petrochemical developments at Moss Morran. Will he reconsider, therefore, his bad decision to stop such development at Hunterston? Will he give the go-ahead for petrochemical developments in the West of Scotland, which has the highest unemployment rate in the United Kingdom?

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

I am not aware that there are any petrochemical developments currently before me relating to the West of Scotland. If there were, I should no doubt consider them.