New row developing over location of Ship-to-Ship transfers

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THE CAMPAIGN GROUP seeking to halt plans to position a new ship-to-ship oil transfer facility on the Moray Firth has challenged recent remarks made by the Cromarty Firth Port Authority (CFPA).

At dispute is the exact position of the site being proposed by the CFPA, with Cromarty Rising, the Highlands and Moray group opposed to the proposals, saying that it is inside the Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

However, a recent news article included comments form the CFPA that described the location of ship-to-ship anchorage sites, Cromarty Rising say the CFPA failed to name the Moray Firth as the location of the anchorage in question.

Cromarty Rising highlight that it is not the first time that CFPA has failed to give accurate descriptions of the actual proposed sites – claiming they did the same thing in the previous application in December 2015. They were subsequently ordered to renew their bid after reviewing their consultation procedures with local groups.

The issue of Ship-to-Ship crude oil transfers inside the Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation (SAC) is controversial and an important local issue. The Scottish Government Guidelines for Scottish Trust ports carry a Ministerial foreword which explicitly requires Scottish trust ports “to undertake their duties in an open and transparent manner”

A Cromarty Rising spokesperson said: “The Cromarty Firth port authority don’t seem to know where the Cromarty Firth ends and where Moray Firth SAC starts.

“Their proposed transfers of crude oil are at anchorages inside the Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation. The location of the proposed transfers is what people object to and not the transfers of crude oil themselves.

“The port already has a license for Nigg Terminal, supporting highly skilled jobs, why on earth do they want to move industrial activity to inside an SAC with greater risk of injury to marine life?”

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said in their feedback of the CFPA’s 2015 application: “Successful STS operations are already carried out across the berths at Nigg Oil Terminal and no reason has been given why these cannot continue.

“These have considerably less risk than STS at anchor, both as regards the probability of an incident and as the consequences from oil spills.”

The Cromarty Rising spokesperson added: “Regulator MCA is also believed to have criticised the port for failing in their duty of public engagement. Despite this CFPA have repeatedly refused to conduct public meetings at any community council along the Moray Firth, whom, as closest residents, will be most affected by noise and fumes emitted.

“This is an issue of Scottish trust port failing to provide accurate information to the public in an open and transparent manner.”

A new application is expected by the Port Authority early in the new year.