Moray Council could not be forced to clear up catastrophic oil spill

Moray Council could not be forced to clean up from an oil spill
Moray Council could not be forced to clean up from an oil spill

RESPONSIBILITY FOR CLEARING up any oils spills resulting from a proposed ship-to-ship transfer site on the Moray Firth would not rest with Moray Council.

That, according to a leading campaigner against the plans, should in itself be enough to see the controversial proposals scrapped on legal grounds.

Highland councillor Craig Fraser has written to Moray’s MP Angus Robertson seeking his support in opposition to the Cromarty Firth Port Authority (CFPA) application which is currently under consideration by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

In his letter to the SNP’s leader at Westminster, Mr Fraser points out the dangers to Moray’s beaches should a failure in ship-to-ship transfers at the mouth of the Cromarty Firth occur.

Mr Fraser said: “Highland Council have been designated as responsible for shoreline clean up in the CFPA Oil Contingency plans.

“Moray Council have not been designated as responsible for their own shoreline clean up – in effect nobody has been designated for shoreline clean up in Moray in the CFPA oil spill contingency plans.”

The Highland councillor points out that legally any oil transfer licence could not be awarded unless “oil spill plans are adequate” – and with no plan for clearing spills on the Moray coastal area that in itself should be sufficient to reject the application.

Mr Fraser outlines several areas in which the CFPA application is lacking, and calls on the Moray MP to join his Westminster SNP colleague, Ian Blackford MSP, in raising the issue at the UK Parliament.

The councillor added: “Oil spill clean up requires equipment, training and appointed coordinators. The local authority also has responsibility for Health and Safety during the clean up, including volunteer training, safety, protective equipment, communication, approved plans etc.

“Contaminated disposal from beaches requires specialist waste disposal licences – Moray Council may not have access to this as it is very rare and disposal is extremely expensive.

“Without consultation the Department of Transport are evaluating a licence award which will bring financial burdens to Moray Council, which is a devolved matter.

“How can a Westminster department, based on the advice of the unelected body such as MCA, levy a financial cost on a Scottish local authority in respect of a devolved matter?”