Whale visitors brought oil debate into sharp focus

Humpback Whales brought the ship-to-ship oil controversy into a wider understanding of the issues (Pic: Thomas Gorman)

CAMPAIGNERS SEEKING TO BLOCK plans to set up ship-to-ship oil transfers on the Moray Firth are hoping to gain a debate at Westminster over the issue.

An online petition has reached just under 94,000 signatures last night – and with five days to go it is hoped that it will reach the 100,000 names required to justify a debate at the UK Parliament.

Groups from all along the Moray coastline have been battling against the plans by the Cromarty Port Authority to expand their ship-to-ship transfers on open water at the mouth of the firth. Campaigners say that poses a serious threat to the resident dolphin population.

However, it was the recent highly publicised visit of Humpback Whales off the coast between Hopeman and Burghead that sparked national and international interest in their cause – and a leap from a few thousand signatures to the verge of the required 100,000 in just a few weeks.

Now Moray campaigner Steve Truluck is asking people in the region to get behind the campaign and help drive it over the line: “Our petition has received huge support nationally as well as the strong local support it has always had.

“We have been pressing politicians to enter the debate from the start and several have – while this is a devolved issue, Scottish Government politicians also have a role to play in that they have a right, through the Scottish Marine Plan, to halt the licence application.

“If we were able to get over the line with the petition then it opens up an opportunity to debate the issue at Westminster – something that should have happened in any case.”

Full details on the campaign and the petition can be found online.