THE final business case for the £34 million Exxon site development 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 risen by almost £1.7 million.

The new report asks members of West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) to approve the ‘drawing down’ of additional cash to complete the full business case for the project on the site of the former ExxonMobil oil terminal.

The final business case (FBC) for the scheme – part of the Glasgow City Region’s City Deal initiative – was due to have been submitted to the City Deal Programme’s management office by November of this year.

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

Remediation of the site by contractors working on behalf of ExxonMobil began at the start of this year and is expected to take two and a half years.

The report, to go before a full council meeting on Wednesday, June 22, states: “[Council] officers are exploring the potential to undertake some works in advance of taking occupation of the Exxon site following its remediation, and will report back to the council with options”.

That work, according to the report, could involve the start of construction of the road junction at the western access to the site, which lies outside the current ExxonMobil site boundary.

The land is being handed over by parent company Esso for free, while the oil company is also paying WDC £1 million.

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

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

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

Kevin Rush, the senior responsible officer for the Clyde Green Freeport bid, said: “As Scotland’s economic powerhouse, Glasgow City Region is uniquely positioned to create a highly successful green freeport to put the country at the forefront of global trade and decarbonisation.”

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

Critics have said freeports can encourage tax avoidance and lower regulation.

Partners believe the Clyde Green Freeport would maximise the area’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 the director of regional economic growth for the Glasgow City Region, added the region has “everything necessary” to make a successful bid, including one of the most educated populations in the UK and 33 per cent of Scotland’s GDP.

He added the region has three world-class innovation districts, internationally acclaimed universities and research institutes and renowned business expertise across key sectors of aerospace, advanced engineering, manufacturing, maritime and medical.

“Glasgow City Region is at the heart of the Scottish economy, providing almost 30% of the country’s business base and 34% of its jobs,” Mr Rush said. “As well as the enormous economic boost and competitive advantage a successful bid would bring to Glasgow City Region, it would also support enterprise, regeneration and trade across the rest of Scotland and the UK.”

The Scottish Greens, who have a power-sharing deal with the SNP at Holyrood, have criticised the roll-out of freeports, saying they give tax breaks to multinational firms.