Exxon’s site business case delayed – and £1.7m cost spike revealed

The final business case for the development of the £34million Exxon site in Bowling is set to be delayed until next summer, a report has revealed.

And the cost of producing the business case for the planned industrial and commercial development has increased by almost £1.7 million.

The new report asks members of West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) to approve the “drawdown” of additional cash to complete the full business case for the project at the site of the former ExxonMobil oil terminal.

The Final Business Case (BCA) for the program – part of the Glasgow Region’s City Deal initiative – was due to be submitted to the City Deal Program Management Office in November this year.

But the same report advises advisers that “we wish to change the FBC submission date from November 2022 to June 2023.”

Site remediation by contractors working for ExxonMobil began early this year and is expected to take two and a half years.

The report, which is due to be presented to a full council meeting on Wednesday June 22, states: “[Council] Officers are exploring the possibility of undertaking some work prior to occupying the Exxon site following its remediation, and will report back to council with options.”

According to the report, this work could involve the start of construction of the road junction at the western access to the site, which is outside the current ExxonMobil site boundaries.

The land is being given away for free by parent company Esso, while the oil company is also paying £1m to WDC.

When completed, the site will include commercial and industrial areas as well as a new 1.95km road providing an alternative route to the A82 between Clydebank and Dumbarton.

Councilors will also be asked at next week’s meeting to give WDC’s backing for a ‘green freeport’ offer on and around the Clyde, where normal tax and customs rules would not apply.

The proposed Freeport would include four sites on the Clyde owned by Clydeport, including Scott’s Yard in Bowling and Rothesay Dock in Clydebank.

Kevin Rush, Senior Bid Manager for Clyde Green Freeport, said: “As Scotland’s economic engine, the Glasgow City region is uniquely positioned to create a highly successful Green Freeport to place the countries at the forefront of global trade and decarbonization.

A “green freeport” is a large zoned area within a defined boundary that includes rail, sea or an airport. Operators in the zone can benefit from “a set of tax and other incentives”.

Critics have said free ports can encourage tax evasion and reduce regulation.

The partners believe the Clyde Green Freeport would maximize the region’s transport network and facilities at Glasgow Airport, the freight interchange at Mossend, Bellshill and four deep water ports on the Clyde including Bowling and Rothesay Dock .

Mr Rush, who is also regional economic growth director for the Glasgow region, added that the region had “everything needed” to be a successful bid, including one of the most educated populations in the UK and 33% of Scottish GDP.

He added that the region has three world-class innovation districts, internationally renowned universities and research institutes and renowned business expertise in the key sectors of aerospace, advanced engineering, manufacturing. , navy and medicine.

“The Glasgow region is at the heart of Scotland’s economy, providing almost 30% of the country’s business base and 34% of its jobs,” Mr Rush said. “As well as the huge economic boost and competitive advantage that a successful bid would bring to the Glasgow City region, it would also support enterprise, regeneration and trade in the rest of Scotland and from the United Kingdom.”

The Scottish Greens, who have a power-sharing deal with the SNP at Holyrood, criticized the rollout of freeports, saying they were giving tax breaks to multinational companies.