A MAJOR step forward has been taken for the proposed multi-million pound development at Bowling - which could see the creation of up to 700 jobs in West Dunbartonshire.

The project will also see the development of a vital relief road to run alongside the often congested A82 between Bowling and Dumbarton.

Councillors last week voted overwhelmingly in favour to refresh the outline business case and approved an additional financial commitment to West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) of almost £1 million.

The council also gave their officers the go-ahead to start negotiations with landowners over the transfer of their land to the council to allow a wider development.

The site of the proposed development is the former home of the decommissioned Bowling oil terminal, between Dumbarton and Clydebank, which was levelled in 1997.

But one councillor wanted to pull the plug on the whole project unless developers Exxon remove any contamination on the land at their cost.

Community Party councillor Jim Bollan moved an amendment against the Glasgow City Region City Deal update. It read: “Council agrees to withdraw from the current City Deal Project relating to the Exxon site. The site is heavily contaminated with toxic chemicals and materials including asbestos which will not be removed from the site under the proposed ‘remediation’ process.

“Until an agreement is reached with the Exxon owners that all the contaminated heavy metals and asbestos is removed from the site, at their cost, then West Dunbartonshire Council will not spend any more public money on this land which is not owned by WDC and which has already cost local council taxpayers in excess of £3 million.”

Cllr Bollan added: “We were told £27 million would be recoverable, then we are told it will cost a further £3 million, now it’s another £1 million. What the residents of West Dunbartonshire and myself need to know is what is happening and get further information. There is a confidentiality clause which prevents me from doing that. We are the custodians of the public’s money and we are in a battle against one of the biggest multi-national companies in the world. We don’t even own this contaminated land. It has been an absolutely disgraceful deal to get involved in and I hope we take this opportunity to stop.”

The City Deal infrastructure programme equates to £1.13bn of investment for over 20 projects over a 10 year period.

WDC approved the outline business case for the Exxon site project on February 22, 2017, and for the City Region cabinet on April 11.

The council leader, Councillor Jonathan McColl, said: “To be fair Councillor Bollan has been against this from day one. I disagree, I think it’s well merited and could result in 600-plus jobs. We are not spending any extra money at this point. It makes no sense to throw it out.”

Cllr McColl moved the recommendation, which was seconded and supported by the Labour group leader, Councillor Martin Rooney.

Cllr Rooney said: “This is a massive development site and a fantastic development deal for the whole of Clyde Valley. It’s still 10 years down the line. We must invest for the future of West Dunbartonshire.”

The recommendation to note the progress of the Glasgow City Region City Deal was accepted by 20 votes to two.

In a report put before councillors last week, the council’s strategic lead for regeneration, Jim McAloon, said: “It is anticipated that the application will be approved by spring 2019. Discussions with planning, environmental health, and SEPA are ongoing.”

The remediation work for Exxon is estimated to take up to 24 months to complete.