CALLS have been made for the experiences of those living with autism near Mossmorran to be included in any investigation of the Fife Ethylene Plant.

MSP Mark Ruskell believes the Scottish Government should ensure an equalities impact assessment is carried out following flaring at the site earlier this year.

He said: "The powerful testimonies I heard at the recent public meeting in Lochgelly really brought it home what a negative impact this plant is having on families' day-to-day lives, but the impact can be so much worse when a person is living with autism.

"Increased sensory sensitivity can result in extreme stress and anxiety for both adults and children, and this has to be taken into account when assessing the impacts of this plant."

Fife Council passed a motion recently calling for an independent review into the environmental, health and social impacts of the plant but the Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said that such a study could prejudice the ongoing inquiry by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

Mr Ruskell added: "I’m not aware of any equalities impact assessment that’s been carried out by SEPA, Fife Council or NHS Fife that takes into account the experiences of people with autism in the local community.

"This needs to be progressed as a matter of urgency and should form a central part of the environmental, health and social impacts study that Fife Council and the local community have requested.”

Ms Cunningham said she would look into the issue and liaise with NHS Fife, who are set to carry out a review of health data for the area.

Stuart Neill, external affairs manager at the FEP, said: "We understand the issues that flaring can bring to communities.

"That is why we are taking affirmative action to further minimise both the instances and impact of unplanned events.

"A multi-million pound programme of improvements is being reviewed by SEPA and we are keen to begin implementation as soon as possible."

ExxonMobil Chemical Limited, who operate the plant, are also set to find a new partner to help them continue to welcome schoolchildren to their environmental pond.

The Press reported last week that the charity which provides the tutors for the trips, the Ecology Centre, was set to “terminate” its relationship with the plant last Thursday.

A new partner is now being sought and Catherine Cubitt, community affairs co-ordinator at FEP, said: “Our environmental pond was the brainchild of a retired FEP colleague who wanted to help local children discover the joys of science and nature.

“His vision and commitment has now seen over 20,000 local children, usually between the ages of eight and 12, enjoy their visit, and so we will defend this valuable legacy from those individuals seeking to further their own agendas.

“We have received ongoing support from schools and parents and are actively securing a new environmental partner to ensure future generations benefit in the same way as those in the two decades before them.”