Crunch decision on ship-to-ship oil transfers expected

Campaign against Moray Firth oil transfers nearing decision time.
Campaign against Moray Firth oil transfers nearing decision time.

THE CROMARTY FIRTH PORT Authority has been blasted for refusing to attend a public meeting being held this week to discuss their plans to operate ship-to-ship oil transfers on the Moray Firth.

Since December campaigners from communities all along the Moray Firth have been applying pressure on the port authority to drop their plans, citing the possible devastation that could be caused to the natural environment.

The initial study into the plans prepared on behalf of the port authority itself admitted that any spillage, however unlikely, would strike along the Moray coast from Findhorn to Lossiemouth.

While a final decision on a licence that would allow such activities at the mouth of the Cromarty Firth is still awaited, appeals have been made to the port authority to drop their plans – something they have so far refused to do.

Now the authority has been accused of dodging a face-to-face meeting with campaigners at a time when some have instigated a legal challenge to their plans.

The campaigners – who have come together under the ‘Cromarty Rising’ banner – are expecting a decision on the issue from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) as early as this week. A spokesman for the campaign group said: “We are hopeful that the port will take our concerns seriously and do the right thing for the communities and the local environment by withdrawing the application.

“We are not trying to prevent oil transfers between ships – we simply want them to be conducted in the safest and most environmentally friendly manner, which the current application does not allow.”

Responding to their refusal to engage with the public meeting this week, a spokesperson for the port authority said: “The port has listened to all the expert and community feedback during the consultation period and beyond, and is currently undertaking a programme of further work designed to address outstanding concerns and technical clarifications.

“There is nothing we can add to the information we have previously provided until that work has been completed and submitted to the MCA.”

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