Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Cromarty Firth proposed ship-to-ship oil transfers - Environment Secretary Richard Lochead releases statement but John Finnie MSP still critical

Below is a press statement from Richard Lochead in relation to the proposed ship to ship oil transfers at the mouth of the Cromarty Firth and further down the article John Finnie MSP's criticism of what Richard Lochead has to say. Also below a link to a P&J article that highlights that the RSPB and the National Trust have also objected to the proposal 
Scottish Government press release

"Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has renewed his call for decisions on ship to ship oil transfers to be devolved to the Scottish Government.

With an application for ship to ship oil transfer in the Cromarty Firth under consideration, Mr Lochhead has written to Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport. In the letter he asks again for the devolution of powers to ensure decisions can be taken by the Scottish Government in line with European obligations to protect the marine environment. He also insists that should this again be refused, the Scottish Government is consulted prior to any decisions being made.

In his letter, Mr Lochhead also asks that the “worrying” decision to remove the one remaining emergency towing vessel from Scottish seas from March 31 is revisited.

Mr Lochhead highlights a number of concerns about the potential impact the two issues could have on Scotland’s marine life, environmental features and, when it comes to the emergency towing vessel, the safety of mariners.

Mr Lochhead said:

“Scotland’s seas are a precious and valuable resource and we are committed to protecting them. But our ability to do this is undermined by decisions being taken elsewhere.

“We have a legal obligation to protect Scotland’s environment and yet we have no say in whether ship to ship transfer of oil can take place in our waters. That is why I am again calling for the UK Government to give Scotland these powers without delay, given there is an application for the Cromarty Firth being considered.

“If, once again, the UK Government refuse to devolve these powers, they simply must consult the Scottish Government before a decision about the Cromarty Firth application, and any application affecting Scottish waters, is taken. In the meantime we are paying very close attention to the views of SNH and SEPA, which we will consider carefully.

“I have also raised the UK Government’s decision to remove the remaining emergency towing vessel from the Scottish coast which is a worrying backward step that does nothing to help protect our mariners, marine wildlife and the industries that depend on our seas.

“We need urgent action to ensure that Scotland’s seas and coastal communities are properly protected.” "

And John Finnie's press release:

"Finnie condemns Lochhead's statement on ship to ship transfers

John Finnie MSP has today condemned Richard Lochhead’s statement on the proposed ship to ship oil transfers across the Cromarty Firth as “too little, too late”.

Mr Finnie was responding to Mr Lochhead’s baffling decision to wait until after the consultation had closed to break his silence on the risky proposal.

The campaign against ship to ship oil transfers has gathered significant momentum in recent weeks, prior to the deadline for objections on February 8th. Mr Finnie has campaigned alongside coastal communities, local and national wildlife agencies and environmental organisations to oppose these dangerous plans, yesterday submitting a petition with over 3,000 signatures calling on the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to reject the proposal. Mr Finnie’s petition has continued to grow and now stands at over 3,500. Until yesterday, there had been no word from Mr Lochhead on the matter.

Mr Finnie said:

“The reaction of the SNP Government to these proposals has been hugely disappointing. Back in 2008 they were staunchly against this risky method, but this time around we’ve had several conflicting messages. Credit where credit is due, several SNP Highland Councillors have expressed their opposition to ship to ship oil transfers across the Cromarty Firth; but we’ve also had the leader of Highland Council claim that the SNP Government support the proposal and the Government simply released a bland and non-committal statement. It’s a disgrace.

“A Cabinet Minister of an SNP government calling for powers to be devolved is not news, it’s a smoke screen. I agree with Mr Lochhead, of course this is a decision that should be in the hands of the Scottish Government but what we need from him is not another tactical delay but a simple yes or no; does he support ship to ship transfers across the Cromarty Firth or not?

“These proposals have attracted huge, international public interest, with thousands of people expressing significant opposition to the plans of the Cromarty Firth Port Authority. There is real public concern around this matter, and the public deserve to know what the Cabinet Minister for Rural Affairs and Environment and indeed the MSP for Moray makes of these plans, and I urge him to make his views known.” "

P&J article on how RSPB and National Trust have also objected. 

1 comment:

Graisg said...

@anon, River CC have submitted an objection to the process along with their counterparts on West Suburban.