Legal action: Steuart Bayley Hog v. The Broxburn Oil Co. Ltd, 1911

type: Environment - air pollution

The Scotsman
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Steuart Bayley Hog v. The Broxburn Oil Co. Ltd

Kirkliston Proprietor and Oilworks

The record was closed and proof allowed in an action at the instance of Steuart Bayley Hog of Newliston, Kirkliston, against the Broxburn Oil Company (Limited.) The pursuer's father in May 1883 claimed compensation from the defenders on the ground that his estate was being damaged by the smoke and vapours coming from their works at Broxburn, and the defenders agreed to pay £ 300 annually for five 3 years. In 1888 the arbiter to whom the question was referred under the original agreement assessed the compensation at £180 per annum, which was paid down to 1896. In the following year the sum was increased to £210. That sum was paid by the defenders down to Angust1909, when they intimated that they would pay no longer as the obligation upon them had ceased.

The pursuer maintains that-the injury and inconvenience continue to exist to at least as great an extent as they did in 1888 and 1897, and that there is no change (of circumstance to warrant the defenders refusing- to implement the agreements founded on . It is averred that the defenders continue to consume large quantities of coal mixed with tar and other refuse, with the result that a dense black cloud of smoke containing much soot and noxious gas is given out. In addition, large quantities of sulphurous vapour pass out from the sulphuric acid works in which the defenders produce acid from iron pyrites, and the smoke and vapours are constantly carried over the pursuer's estate by the prevailing' westerly wind . The smoke and vapours are not only prejudicial to the comfort of the pursuer, but are injurious to the woods, plantations, and vegetable growth on his estate.

In the present action the pursuer asks decree for £210, being the sum which the defenders agreed to pay in terms of the findings pronounced by the arbiter in October 1888, as compensation for damage during the year ending Whitsunday 1911. Alternatively, he sues for £157 10s in name of damages to the estate from Whitsunday 1910. The defenders say that in making the offer to pay £210 they did so on the express understanding that they did not admit that any damage for which they were liable to pay compensation was being; caused to the woods, but with a view to avoid litigation. The agreement concluded in July 1897 was an agreement to pay a sum to the late Mr. Hog, not to the pursuer, and the defenders' liability thereunder terminated on the death of Mr Hog in February 1908. When the pursuer succeeded to the estate any injury had ceased to exist, as the smoke and vapour from the defenders' works no longer contained noxious matters in any appreciable or deleterious quantity. There is now nothing in the smoke or vapour which can injure the pursuer's trees or affect the amenity of his dwelling-house and estate.

By improved methods of manufacture every possible source of injury to the pursuer has been removed. Since 1883 five new oilworks have been started in the vicinity, and three are still in operation. Since 1883 the defenders have paid the pursuer and his father a total sum of £5950 in name of compensation. Counsel for the Pursuer - Mr Maconochie. Agents - Maconochie Duncan, & Hare, W.S. Counsel for the Defenders - Mr Arthur R. Brown. Agents - Waddell & M'lntosh, W.S.

The Scotsman, 31st May 1911