A COUNCILLOR has warned that a confidentiality agreement with Exxon could result in West Dunbartonshire Council taking on a future "toxic heath time bomb."

Leven Councillor Jim Bollan made the comments during a discussion on the City Deal project last Wednesday at WDC's full meeting.

Part of the project involves the transfer of land at the former Exxon site in Bowling into local authority hands.

The plan is to then transform the land into a major industrial and commercial development, and create a road to provide an alternative route in and out of West Dunbartonshire.

It is anticipated that when complete the regeneration of the site will provide almost 700 new jobs with 44,200m2 of occupied industrial and commercial floorspace.

An update on the proposals came before a meeting of full council last Wednesday.

Part of the report which came before councillors said: "The Council will, when considering the transfer of land, be provided with all relevant, interpreted and verified information needed to determine whether to acquire the site and further will, through the statutory processes that follow or precede any such acquisition (i.e. the planning process), be given requisite information to make an appropriate decision, including conditions to be applied."

However, Cllr Bollan is fuming that a confidentiality agreement is currently in place prohibiting him and members of the public from, so far, finding out about the condition of the land- before any proposed transfer takes place.

And he also pointed to a section of the report which stated that 83 per cent of respondents to a Pre-Application Notice (PAN) consultation event, which took place at Bowling Town Hall in May, "did not support the development."

Speaking about the information blackout Cllr Bollan said: "The report states that councillors are not going to be allowed to have full discussions in the environmental health impact.

"It's critical that I have the information to make an informed decision because we are going to spend up to £4m on this before 2019.

"Not having this information is completely unacceptable, it could be a toxic health time bomb but the information we need continues to be denied. To me it's undemocratic.

WDC's head of legal, democratic and regulatory services Peter Hessett said: "It's been said several times that the required information will be made available to the council- when it comes to planning.

"There would have to be environmental impact statements and members will be invited to see that at that time, as well as the public."

The report also states: "No commitment to acquire the site from Exxon will be made before presenting Council with a full report on the proposed terms of the acquisition, at which point Elected Members will have the opportunity to question officers before deciding whether or not to proceed with the site acquisition."

After the meeting Cllr Bollan said: "The Council is being set up to take ownership of this pig in a poke and let Exxon a huge multinational company with massive profits, wriggle out of their environmental responsibilities."