Controversial second oil bid will go ahead despite protests

A PORT AUTHORITY is insisting that they will go ahead with a renewed bid to establish controversial oil transfers on the Moray Firth.

Campaigners led by regional MSP John Finnie will gather at Holyrood tomorrow when a delayed debate on the issue will be held.

MSP’s will be urged to reject any renewed bid by the Cromarty Firth Port Authority to establish ship-to-ship transfers, with the campaign group Cromarty Rising producing evidence that doing so would pose the most serious threat possible to marine life all along the Moray Firth.

For over 18 months Mr Finnie has been at the heart of the campaign to halt the plans – the original submission was rejected by last year by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in response to the community concerns, calling on the CFPA to “modify” their plans.

Ahead of the debate in Holyrood today, sparked by a 100,000-signature petition organised by Cromarty Rising, Mr Finnie said: “The important thing to understand is that there is not an application at the moment and, hopefully, there won’t be one.”

However, the CFPA have said that a renewed application has been prepared, suggesting it will be submitted “in the interests of the majority of stakeholders”.

While saying that they do understand some people are against the application, they have never acknowledged the strength of feeling against their plans by communities in Moray and the Highlands.

A spokeswoman said: “We believe that people have the right to debate and protest, and it is only fair our stakeholders are confident we look after the environment. The port has modified its application in response to the concerns raised over the past 12 months.

“We fully appreciate that the environment in which we operate is extremely special and we are legally bound to protect it.”