The Scottish Environmental Protection agency has today launched an investigation into the ongoing flaring from a Fife power plant.

Thick plumes of black smoke stretched across Mossmorran on Sunday, and could be seen from as far as Edinburgh.

The flaring has now entered its fifth day, with residents and local politicians become increasingly concerned for their safety and welfare.

Residents have launched a petition calling for redress from the 'long term environmental and social impacts' from the facilities in central Fife. 

Since its launch two days ago it has amassed 1,200 signatures, with many people seeking answers on the plant's safety.

Read more: Oil giants under fire for safety failings at Fife plant

James Glen, chair of the Mossmorran Action Group, said the flaring was the latest 'catastrophic failure' of the plant, and says it shows it is not fit for purpose.

Plant operators Exxon Mobil Chemical Ltd apologised for the disruiption, and said that staff were working 'through the night' to address the problems.

As reported in the Dunfermline Press, Stuart Neill, external affairs manager for the plant, said: “We absolutely understand the disruption that the current unplanned flaring is having on communities in the area.

“Our team are working round the clock to bring the plant back to normal operations, a process which will take a few days to safely complete. 

“During this time, we will, regrettably, need to continue to flare."

SEPA say over 600 complaints have been received to date about the flaring, one of the highest number for any single event.

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They say they have deployed a full regulatory, air quality and noise monitoring response, after residents complained the noise was preventing sleep and interupting their daily lives.

Terry A’Hearn, SEPA’s CEO, said: “Every day, SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland’s environment and compliance with Scotland’s environmental rules is simply non-negotiable.

"In addition to working hard to ensure ExxonMobil brings a halt to the flaring as quickly as possible, we have also launched this investigation into the incident.

“The unprecedented number of complaints we have received is a clear message and it’s one that we have heard powerfully and clearly.

“The Mossmorran complex is a major industrial facility, where this type of flaring is a legitimate safety mechanism, but it’s been happening too often, and the current level and extent of the flaring from ExxonMobil Chemical Limited is unacceptable.”

Local MSP Annabelle Ewing slammed plant operators and said: "I was extremely concerned to discover that there has been further unplanned flaring carried out by Exxon Mobil at Mossmorran over the course of this weekend.

"Flaring results in my constituents being subjected to noise, vibration and black smoke which is not just a nuisance but a source of genuine worry and concern about the potential safety and health implications.