A MULTI-MILLION pound investment at Fife Ethylene Plant is hoped to reduce visible flares at Mossmorran.

A new Enclosed Ground Flare (EGF) unit has been brought into operation at the ExxonMobil site and it is hoped to reduce potential disturbance to surrounding communities.

The design of the equipment differs from the existing elevated flares at Mossmorran in that the flame itself is enclosed and not visible.

It is also completely smokeless and does not require high volumes of steam.

The technologies significantly reduce light, noise and vibration sometimes associated with the current flares.

Toby Hamblin, plant manager, said: "While we never want to flare, on those occasions when we need to, we are following a safe and approved process.

"What the EGF does is ensure we minimise any potential disturbance to our host communities, with at least 98 per cent of any required flaring safely contained in the new unit.’’ "We are committed to being a good neighbour to our host communities.

"Recent major investments have significantly improved our operational reliability and reduced flaring events, with the introduction of the EGF further underlining our commitment."

Should the EGF be required to manage an operational issue, a few seconds of flaring will first be required in the existing elevated flare until the gas is safely directed to the EGF.

The system is said to be quieter than a petrol lawnmower and invisible when operating on a clear day or night.

It is completely smokeless, causes no vibrations, and helps to reduce emissions.

Earlier this year Mark Ruskell, the Scottish Green MSP for Fife, said a radical plan to end "Mordor-esque flaring" from Mossmorran and moves to climate-proof the site would help to save the planet and hundreds of jobs.

He cited a report, written by economist Sara Mahmoud, recommending a specific 'just transition plan' for the site and for operators hell UK and ExxonMobil to abandon their current ways of working for a "cleaner, sustainable future".

After repeated bouts of unplanned flaring both firms were served with final warnings by SEPA in 2018 and, after more incidents, referred to the Crown Office in 2020 for possible prosecution.

ExxonMobil and Shell say major investment in their plants will significantly reduce the need for flaring – the burning of excess or waste gas – which is the main concern for local communities.