25 Jan 2013

Hugh Henry MSP gets Salmond to hold Ministerial Meeting over future of recycling plant

First Minister Alex Salmond has promised to hold a Ministerial Meeting on the future of the WRC recycling plant in Johnstone after Renfrewshire South MSP Hugh Henry yesterday called for a change in legislation.

The Labour politician raised the concerns of his constituents in the Scottish Parliament after the plant in Floors Street went up in flames on Monday night causing residents to be evacuated and trains cancelled.

During First Minister’s Questions Mr Henry told Parliament: “On Monday night there was a major fire at a recycling plant in Johnstone next to residential properties and the town centre. Some local residents were evacuated and rail services to Ayrshire were halted.”

And he asked: “Will the First Minister consider a review of legislation to ensure that these operations are not located in such public areas? And will he ask his Minister to come to Johnstone to meet with me and the relevant agencies to discuss a way forward?”

Mr Salmond pledged that Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Minister for Transport Keith Brown would take part in such a meeting with the relevant agencies.

Mr Henry said: “My constituents cannot continue to live with this hazard beside them or have to deal with the worry and anxiety it causes. I am happy that the First Minister has agreed to a meeting and I hope that his Ministers will be able to bring some clarity.

“I would also hope that all the relevant agencies such as Renfrewshire Council, SEPA, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, the Police and Network Rail will be involved in discussions which could lead to the introduction of new legislation covering recycling plants.

“The people who live beside or close to this plant are genuinely worried and need to get action which would allay all their fears and that, as far as I am concerned, is closure.”

Mr Salmond said: “A discussion to understand the circumstances is the right way to proceed. A decision should then be made on what action needs to be taken as a result of the meeting.”

Around 80 firefighters were involved in the battle to control the blaze, which caused travel chaos as the main Ayrshire to Glasgow railway line had to be closed for safety reasons.

And, just hours before the inferno took place, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue had been warned the recycling plant was “an accident waiting to happen” by the local MSP who had sent a letter to fire chiefs, highlighting safety concerns at the WRC factory.