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Petrochemical Development

Volume 974: debated on Wednesday 21 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will report progress on the nature and scope of the hazard audit relating to the planning application for a petrochemical complex at Braefoot Bay and Moss Morran.

The responsibility for carrying out the independent hazard and operability audit required by the conditions that my right hon. Friend attached to the planning permissions which he issued on 9 August rests on the developers, Shell and Esso. There are at present discussions going on between the developers, the planning authorities and the Health and Safety Executive on the nature and scope of the audit.

Will the Minister accept that that is not a satisfactory reply? His right hon. Friend just cannot adopt an arm's length relationship for this exercise. Will he take a specific opportunity to refute the assertions made in The Sunday Times that the Government intend to downgrade the environmental aspects of this project in order to get the benefits of substantial exports? It is very important to have the Goverment's position made clear on this matter.

If the reply was not satisfactory, it was because the question was not satisfactory either. I assure the hon. Member that the conditions imposed by the Secretary of State were stronger than those proposed by the previous Secretary of State in that the hazard analysis was not just to be to the satisfaction of the local planning authority, but to the satisfaction of the Secretary of State himself. This ensures not only that my right hon. Friend will not delegate or remove any responsibility that he may have for the matter, but that decisions will be taken and decided upon the light of all the evidence.

If the hon. Member makes his point of order now I shall be unable to call another hon. Member to ask a supplementary question.

Will my hon. Friend undertake to look into the question of jurisdiction, and who is responsible for the creation of contingency plans to deal with any emergency which might conceivably arise in the Forth estuary as a result of the developments taking place at Braefoot Bay?

I assure my hon. Friend that part of the purpose of the hazard analysis is to look very closely at the question of who should respond should any emergency arise. I would certainly assume that the local authority and the emergency services provided by that authority would be involved in any final services that were made available.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply I give notice that I shall ask leave to raise this matter on the Adjournment.