Grangemouth’s MSP Angus MacDonald has warned the local community not to be complacent following the welcome news that INEOS will reopen the Grangemouth plant.

Commenting after the announcement, Mr MacDonald said:

“Although the future of the plant has probably been secured for at least a quarter of a century, the future challenges to Grangemouth’s industries have to be recognised in advance to avoid similar threats to jobs in the future.”

“I welcomed Falkirk Council’s proposal for a task force which will look at future challenges. The task force will be set up as a precaution to support any future job losses and focus on the area's economic future.”

It is not the first time local MSP has warned about the future of Grangemouth. Before he became an MSP he was a Grangemouth Councillor and the SNP’s Economic Development Spokesman at Falkirk Council.  In 2009 he expressed his concern at media and industry reports which claimed that the INEOS petro-chemical plant in Grangemouth was being left to rundown and that competition from the Gulf region and China could spell the end for the Grangemouth complex.

The reports which appeared in Scottish business journals and Scottish Sunday newspapers highlighted comments made then by senior industry specialists at the Chemical Sciences Conference held in Dunblane in 2009. The reports suggested that large parts of the industrial plastics and petro-chemical industry based in Grangemouth would disappear completely without significant investment. The claims were made by former BP Executives, the former owners of the petro-chemical plant and executives from the current plant owners, INEOS.

Following the latest developments in Grangemouth and referring to his earlier warning in 2009 Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald said:

“While the decision to keep the plant operational was a huge, we cannot afford to be complacent. Events of last week show that Grangemouth can no longer sit back and assume our industries and jobs are here forever.

“Work needs to be done now to address any future challenges that may arise, which is why I welcome the formation of a task force involving local senior politicians, Falkirk Council, Scottish Government officials and local senior business representatives.

"In recent years we have seen a significant decline in jobs at the Grangemouth petro-chemical plant from 2,500 down to around 1,400.

“Last week we managed to avert a disaster in Grangemouth however with careful planning and proper liaison we can ensure we are never in a similar position again.

“The game changer for Grangemouth has been the advent of cheap shale gas from the USA, which has resulted in the necessary investment of £300 million at the Ineos plant to allow import of the cheaper gas. This clearly helps Grangemouth compete with foreign competition and secures the plant’s future for at least two decades; however competition from the Gulf states and China still exists.

“When the new task force meets for the first time I will be highlighting the Antwerp model where the petro-chemical plant there became a more lucrative asset by attracting mutually beneficial outside businesses to set up on site. Ineos are already playing their part by marketing spare land within their massive complex for development.

“There is a strong future for chemical sciences in Scotland albeit from smaller, specialised companies developing high value products and it is imperative that we attract these creative, science based industries to Grangemouth. It is incumbent on Scottish Enterprise and Falkirk Council to make sure that happens.

"In addition to raising this at the task force, I have met with John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and I will also be discussing with the Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing how best we can support entrepreneurs in the science based industries and how to attract them to Grangemouth to ensure the town continues to have a bright future."

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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