A SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT agency responsible for maritime issues declined to make any comment on ship-to-ship oil transfer plans on the Moray Firth.
Marine Scotland, which is part of the Scottish Government, were consulted “several times” on plans by the Cromarty Firth Port Authority to define an area of the Moray Firth for oil transfers – but responded by saying they had “no intention” of commenting.
The revelation came after an exchange between SNP MP Ian Blackford and the Scottish Secretary David Mundell in the House of Commons this week. Mr Blackford has been pressing the UK Government on why the Scottish Government had not been consulted on the issue.
Campaigners from throughout Moray and the Highlands have been calling on the plans, which are currently being considered by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), to be scrapped. They insist that allowing such transfers so close to the open waters of the Moray Firth pose a dangerous and serious threat to marine life, including the resident dolphin population.
Communities in Moray have also objected when learning that any oil spill could spell disaster for beaches all along the Moray coastline.
In the latest Westminster exchange, Mr Blackford questioned a previous statement from a UK Government minister that Marine Scotland had been consulted, saying that he had heard a different story from the Scottish Government agency.
However, Mr Mundell insisted in a written reply that he had been told by the MCA that Marine Scotland had been consulted.
A UK Government spokesman repeated that contention, saying: “Marine Scotland, part of the Scottish Government, was consulted directly on a number of occasions by consultants acting on behalf of the Port of Cromarty Firth about the oil transfer licence consultation.
“Marine Scotland indicated that they had seen the application information and had no intention of submitting a response.”
Mr Blackford has written to the Scottish Secretary seeking his intervention in the proposals, asking that they be “put on hold” and insisting that the entire process was a “shambles”.