Question S4O-00521: Radioactive Contamination at Dalgety Bay

 Bill Walker: To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the radioactive contamination detected at Dalgety Bay.

Current Status: Taken in the Chamber on 22/12/2011

Richard Lochhead (Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment): The Scottish Environment Protection Agency expects to receive from the Ministry of Defence a draft remediation plan by January 2012 and a final version by the end of February 2012. If the MOD fails to provide the plan, SEPA has stated its intention to designate the land, under legislation, as radioactive contaminated land, by the end of March 2012. I believe that the MOD still has an opportunity to take the lead and bring this issue to a close without the need to designate the land, but to do that it must start to fulfil its obligations to the people of Dalgety Bay and deliver credible plans to remediate the contamination.

Bill Walker: Given the concern expressed by many of my constituents in adjacent Dunfermline and throughout west Fife, is the cabinet secretary confident that the MOD will properly address the matter, especially in light of the fact that, at a recent meeting in Dalgety Bay that was attended by local MP Mr Gordon Brown, it was claimed that under the previous Labour United Kingdom Government the MOD apparently accepted responsibility for the contamination but that that position had been reversed under the current UK coalition Government?

Richard Lochhead: Bill Walker highlights a number of good points and the best outcome for the people of Dalgety Bay and the other adjacent communities will be for the MOD to step up to the plate on this very important issue. Indeed, it is important that it does so. The member asks me whether I am confident that that will happen. Obviously, I would much rather give the MOD the benefit of the doubt, but my confidence—and, more important, the confidence of the local community—is being sapped. I hope that the MOD recognises the seriousness with which the local community treats the issue. The best outcome will be to avoid the land being designated as contaminated by radioactivity—we do not want to go there unless we really have to—but that decision ultimately lies not with me but with SEPA. However, I hope that the MOD takes the necessary steps.

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