New consultation ordered on Moray Firth oil plans

Calls for Moray communities to be fully consulted on CFPA oil transfer plans.

PLANS TO ESTABLISH ship-to-ship oil transfers on the Moray Firth must go back to the public for further consultation – prompting calls for the authority behind the move to include Moray this time.

The Cromarty Firth Port Authority (CFPA) first launched their plans with a ‘consultation’ released just before Christmas in 2015 – prompting immediate protests that the timing was designed to cause as little publicity as possible.

An issue that was first reported by insideMoray days after publication of the plans, it became clear that any problems with the new facility would impact severely on Moray communities as well as those closer to the Highlands facility. However, Moray communities were never invited to comment on the original proposals by the CFPA.

Now following over a year during which an organised campaign – Cromarty Rising – has repeatedly highlighted the dangers to beaches and marine life all along the Moray Firth, the Maritime Coastguard Agency has ordered the CFPA to undertake a second public consultation based on a revised application.

In a letter to Cromarty Rising, the MCA’s Stan Woznicki said: “Following the MCA’s assessment a number of areas were identified as needing additional thought. As a result of this, a package of work has been agreed with the CFPA – the results of this is due to deliver a more refined and comprehensive application in the latter half of January 2017.

“The MCA has continued to engage with the Department of Transport and CFPA in order to establish the best way forward once the application is resubmitted. As a result of this the MCA will direct the CFPA to undertake a second public consultation based on the revised application.”

Reacting last night to the second consultation order, Moray Greens convenor James MacKessack-Leitch told insideMoray: “We welcome the news that there will be a new consultation on this application, and I hope that the CFPA will take the opportunity to consult fully and meaningfully with individuals, businesses, and organisations that this affects, and directly with the Moray Council as the issue will impact us all.

“In turn I hope that Councillors will swiftly and publicly take the lead from the fishermen, Community Councils, and others in Moray who quite clearly recognise the value of the Moray Firth, and have already made their objections known.

“Up until now there has been deafening silence from the vast majority of our local elected representatives on this issue, but the need to send a strong clear message to the CFPA that Moray will not be ignored is urgent – that’s exactly what I’ll continue doing, and I hope I’m not alone in standing up for our coastal communities and marine environment.”