Thursday, December 01, 2016

Why should you be concerned about the Cromarty Firth Port Authority’s application for a Ship to Ship Oil Transfer Licence?

Comment from one of our readers:

"The application is for a licence to allow the transfer of oil from one ship to another. These transfers will take place at one of five anchorage points which are located, not within the Cromarty Firth, but right across from us in the Moray Firth. To give you some idea, the most northerly anchorage point is where the oil rig which has been sitting out in the Firth is located. The other four anchorage points are clustered to the south of the mouth of the Cromarty Firth in front of the South Souter. Cromarty Firth Port Authority have not consulted with communities on this side of the Moray Firth.

Cromarty Firth Port Authority propose to have an average of 48 transfers a year and with each transfer dependent on weather conditions there is a possibility that the transfers may be condensed to a shorter period during the year when the weather is better.

Although only one transfer will take place at a time at one of the anchorage points, several vessels will be involved during each transfer including tugs and 250m long tankers (for comparison, the red tankers which sometimes sit in the Firth, eg PetroAtlantic and PetroNordic, are 234m long). Each transfer will take at least 24 hours with 180,000 tonnes of oil being pumped from one tanker to the other.

There will be noise and fumes from engines and pumps throughout the operation. There will also be a 500m exclusion zone around the anchorage point in use.

Given the nature of the proposed operation the very fact that these transfers will be taking place in the Moray Firth increases the possibility of an oil spill accident happening sometime in the future.

If an oil spill occurred what effect could there be on the environment, on natural resources, on local beaches, on the local economy which is highly dependent on tourism, on the wildlife in the Firth?

As you are aware this area is a rich and varied habitat for a multitude of birds, dolphins, porpoises, seals, otters, fish, shellfish and visiting and migrating species. What impact could there be from the disturbance and noise caused by these operations?

What impact could there be to the environment from the discharge of Ballast Water and the possible introduction of Non Native Species which could be contained within this water?

It’s on your doorstep. It could harm your environment. It could harm your beaches. It could harm your lifestyle. So, should you be concerned?

At the very least go along to the meeting this Friday (2nd December) at 7pm in the Nairn Community and Arts Centre and find out more about how this proposal could affect you and what you can do about it.

Don’t leave this for someone else to do."


Anonymous said...

I am usually all in favour of technological progress, but in this case there appears to be no upside to the deal (unless you are a director of the Port Authority) and a very large potential downside for the rest of the local community.

Sheena Baker said...

Very well put, concise and with all the pertinent points we need to know and reflect very seriously about.

The meeting tonight is for all of us, we need to attend, hear what is said and form a robust protest movement.

This is not a Scottish decision as I understand it, so a solid and unified approach objecting to the proposal is required from all who live around the Moray Firth regardless of ones politics.

As someone who was stationed at RAF St Mawgan in the 60's when the Torrey Canyon oil spillage disaster occurred, believe me you do not want to have an oil spillage however minor to occur in the Firth. Even ballast water will have a huge detrimental effect on the wildlife and general environment. Even if they say that will occur miles away - really?! The sceptic in me thinks that some "clever" ship's captain will empty and clean the tanks closer than that!

This summers water quality alarm/debate will be like nothing compared to what could happen if this is allowed to go ahead and something goes wrong.

Please do make the time to come tonight, don't leave it to someone else to be there. Take ownership and be there yourself.

D.Ross said...

It will be very interesting to note which of our local Councillors, MP's, MSP's will be there (if at all) & what if anything they state.

Personally the more people that complain the better.

Anonymous said...

What makes this worse is that it just seems like cost cutting instead of using nigg pier which is safer.

D.Ross said...

No it's not cost cutting, its the Cromarty port authority wanting to increase the amount of cruise ships they can handle. By getting rid of the bunkering & STS which currently takes place at a designated spot on the jetty they can thus free that space up & develop it for the cruise ships & have more in port at the same time. This was briefly mentioned at the meeting as I was there.

Basically greed, as they still want the money from the STS which is why they have decided to ask for STS out at anchor.

What I find more appalling & (in character of their usual attitude) is the fact what in the Furth of Forth application it got quashed very quickly as the three regional councils strongly objected to the application. Our local councils (Highland Council) response has been shrug shoulders & "meh"...

As was mentioned at the meeting of there is a big oil spill the local council will have to foot the clean up bill, & they are so much in debt it would bankrupt them!

Unless of course H.C or the SNP Gov, MSP's etc & our First Minister can force the offenders to pay up....good luck with that...

D.Ross said...

To Gurn,

I see you edited my post & removed a sentence. I'll rewrite & make it more wide ranging.

It is a fact (ask any of the Cromarty Rising folk) & was stated at the meeting that these ships are predominately carrying Baltic sea oil destined for Asian markets.

Therefore it is "nothing to do with us". Not our oil & yes some of our oil & gas companies many be involved, but the majority of the time it will be companies from the Baltic states.

So if a spill does happen then the chances are that the Gov etc that I stated in my previous post would have to try to get the money out of a foreign company for the clean up & if that happens to be one of the more "objectionable" countries then good luck..

Not scaremongering, just stating facts & possibilities.