CAMPAIGNERS SEEKING TO permanently halt any plans to establish ship-to-ship oil transfers on the Moray Firth are organising a direct appeal to the First Minister.
Hundreds are expected to sign a letter calling on Nicola Sturgeon to recognise the “serious detrimental effects” allowing proposals to go ahead.
The Cromarty Port Authority first revealed their plans to establish ship-to-ship transfers at the mouth of the Cromarty Firth almost two years ago. The proposals caused uproar in community all along the Moray Firth – including in Moray where it was revealed that any oil spills from such an installation could devastate the shoreline at such as Findhorn, Burghead and Lossiemouth.
The Authority were asked to review their bid earlier this year and since they have not submitted new proposals – however, the campaign organised by Cromarty Rising and 38Degrees has continued with organisers say they will keep battling until all thought of establishing such a facility is dropped.
Reminding the First Minister that the Scottish Government, when faced with similar proposals for the Firth of Forth in 2008, had opposed the establishment of ship-to-ship transfers there, the Environment Secretary saying at the time: “This is the right decision for Scotland. I am grateful to Forth Ports for their constructive engagement with the Scottish Government and with the Scottish Parliament on this issue.”
Campaigners insist that the Scottish Government has the power to stop any further application being made – but if they fail to do so, then it is a decision that will finally be made by the Secretary of State for Transport at Westminster, Chris Grayling.
In the letter to the First Minister campaigners say: “As the leader of our Government, it is your responsibility to ensure Scotland’s beautiful land and seascapes are protected for future generations.
“Marine and socio-economic reports prepared by your Departments explicitly state that “ship to ship” transfers of crude oil will have serious detrimental effects on our onshore and marine environments.
“Indeed, you stated in the Scottish Parliament (12/1/16): “On the basis of the evidence so far, the Scottish Government is unconvinced that ship-to-ship oil transfers can or should take place, without causing risk to the environment, particularly to bottlenose dolphins”.”
The letter reminds the First Minister that she recognised the concerns of communities along the Moray Firth and pledged her government would do anything it could to make sure they are heard by the Marine Coastguard Agency.
However, they also remind the First Minister of powers she already has, the letter adding: “You do have the ability and the lawful mechanism to prevent such potentially devastating operations in our inshore waters – by denying the issuance of a licence to disturb European Protected Species.
“The nation requires action not administrative sleight of words, political rhetoric or point scoring. Your government is accountable for protecting the nation’s assets, including those managed by the Port of Cromarty Firth, a Trust Port under your control.
“I respectfully demand that you prevent any further licence applications for “ship to ship” oil transfers in the Moray Firth.”