Legal duties regarding the management and condition of the site are the responsibility of the owner or operator. In this case, legal obligations under the permit are on-going and rest with the official receiver, which is the liquidator of the company.
Although the official receiver currently remains responsible for site management, Scottish Environment Protection Agency officers continue to undertake an intensive programme of monitoring. Nevertheless, SEPA has arranged for scoping work to be done to establish the likely costs and practicalities of options for management and mitigation works at the site.
The cabinet secretary will be aware that I have raised the issue several times in the chamber, because it is raised at every surgery that I hold. The four-year-old twins of a constituent of mine are now not permitted to play outside; they report that they can smell pollutants on their clothes. I have sent video evidence indicating that the situation is terrible and is getting worse. Is not it time that the Scottish Government stepped in to make the site safe for the health of people in the surrounding area? It could then seek to establish responsibility and seek recompense.
I entirely appreciate how horrific the situation is for the people who are most directly affected by it and I have discussed the issue with Brian Whittle.
I have outlined where the legal responsibilities currently lie. The solution is not as simple as us stepping in and taking over—notwithstanding that we are the Government—because we have to act legally.
I am conscious that work has been done by SEPA very recently. SEPA is there on the ground as the Government agency that is monitoring and working on the issue. I know that it is concerned about the additional remedial work that has to be done before it can continue its work. I confirm that that will be funded in the immediate future, so I very much hope that there will be progress.
However, that does not remove from the equation the fact that the site is in private ownership and is in the hands of the liquidator. It is a tricky situation, which I know Brian Whittle understands. I also know that he is—quite rightly—concerned about the impact on local people, as are we all.