THE FINAL DAY for people to lodge their views for or against an application to allow ship-to-ship oil transfers on the Moray Firth has arrived.
An extended deadline for the application by the Cromarty Firth Port Authority (CFPA) ends today, with hundreds already having lodged objections – most on the basis that any accidental spill would prove catastrophic for marine life and coastal communities.
While the main thrust of objections have come from around the Cromarty community itself, the dangers posed in Moray has sparked widespread condemnation of the plan with the Dyke and Landward Community Council largely taking the lead.
In her formal objection to the proposals the community council chair, Carol Shaw, wrote of how their area covers a large part of the coastline from the west side of Findhorn Bay to the old county boundary with Nairn.
In a letter to the head of counter pollution and salvage at the Maritime Coastguard Agency, Ms Shaw wrote: “Ship-to-ship transfer of oil is considered to be a high-risk activity and there is therefore a ban on it being carried out in UK Territorial Waters – a distance of 12 miles seaward from the coast, except in strictly controlled areas within ports and one single location in Suffolk.
“The proposed Cromarty Firth transfers sites are actually within a special area of conservation – according to the CFPA application document, [the intended transfers sites] there are 34 internationally and nationally designated and protected sites of environmental importance which could potentially be affected.”
Ms Shaw points out that with 80 additional ships each year there could be “considerable pollution into our waters” from the higher rate and size of shipping alone, with the resident dolphin population subjected to disruption of their food supplies and “significant and sustained noise levels and toxic emissions” as well as the risk of oil spillages.
Over 3000 people signed a petition led by Ms Shaw in Moray while a similar number signed a second petition raised by Highlands & Islands MSP John Finnie.
Anyone wishing to record their individual objection to the plans can do so by email by close of play today to email@example.com (Intertek), firstname.lastname@example.org (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) and email@example.com (Port of Cromarty Firth).