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Lochgelly locals petition for benzene monitoring near Fife Ethylene Plant turbines

Residents living in the shadow of a petrochemical plant have called for enhanced monitoring of cancer-causing pollutants as a windfarm is erected nearby.

With the first turbine up beside Fife Ethylene Plant, there are fears that benzene will be dispersed by the rotating blades.

A petition has been launched in Lochgelly, one of the nearest settlements to Little Raith windfarm, calling for permanent monitoring at several locations.

In addition to Kennedy Renewables’ nine 410-feet turbines at Mossmorran, a further two west of the plant have been given the nod.

For years, there have been worries about the health impact of the ExxonMobil plant on those who live nearby. Tests have found no evidence of increased concentrations of benzene in residential areas during flaring but, as The Courier reported in June, a Glasgow University study concluded concerns about turbines near industrial plants were justified and further investigation was necessary.

Planning consent for Little Raith was given on the condition pollutants were monitored but those behind the petition feel the requirements are insufficient.

James Glen, of campaigning community organisation the Loch of Shining Waters, said: ”There is ongoing concern about pollutants from Mossmorran and the windfarm could increase the risk these pose.

”It is time to get some answers and, ultimately, we need the data so we can clearly quantify the risks.

”Temporary data is only valid for the days monitoring takes place and Mossmorran operates erratically. We want to ensure that there is permanent monitoring at Lochgelly, Lumphinnans, Cowdenbeath, Auchtertool and other areas affected.”

Lochgelly Community Development Forum chairwoman and community councillor Eileen McKenna said a windfarm should never have been allowed in that location.

She said: ”The turbines are very close to the petrochemical plant. We are concerned that benzene will become more concentrated in Lochgelly, with the area being downdraft of the windfarm.

”I would like to see it monitored more closely and an independent body brought in to do that monitoring.

”I would also like to see some background history of windfarms close to petrochemical plants, if there are any, and find out whether Fife Council or the Scottish Government, which is pushing for these windfarms, have done any research on the matter.”

Fellow community councillor Dodd Kinnell said the issued needed highlighting.

He said: ”People in the town talk about how there are so many cases of leukaemia and other cancers but research has only been undertaken in the wider area. It’s never been done town by town.”

The petition, which is on Loch of Shining Water’s website but is also to be circulated locally, states that temporary monitoring would be useless and provide limited reassurance.

Kennedy Renewables chief executive officer Stephen Klein said: ”Kennedy Renewables understands the interest from the public on the need to monitor benzene to determine whether the windfarm has an impact on benzene levels in communities.

”We are working with Fife Council to meet the obligations under our planning consent and we will continue our monitoring programme.

”Whilst our research on the subject gives us confidence that the windfarm willnot increase benzene levels, we need to prove this through the monitoring programme. We look forward to Little Raith providing clean, green energy to meet Scotland’s renewable energy targets.”