Last night at their regular meeting in the Nairn Community and Arts Centre NRCC turned down an invitation to send "one individual" to a "focused workshop" organised by the Moray Firth Partnership. An e-mail from the Moray Firth Partnership came into the public domain at the meeting, it read:
"The Moray Firth Partnership, under new manager, Vicky Junik, is building on previous regional marine planning discussions in the Moray Firth, particularly at the local level, and as such, would like to invite a small group of local community stakeholders with marine interests to a short focussed workshop in Nairn on Monday 26th June.
With the increasing demand for use of and access to the coast and sea, improving information and understanding of how marine space is used and developed is essential. Currently, data is lacking and is not easily accessible at the local scale where the impacts of decisions are felt by communities and stakeholders.
Exploring, demonstrating and understanding the options at the local level is crucial. Particularly how activities interact and potentially conflict; how they are represented and negotiated and how stakeholders can be engaged and empowered to participate and provide advice to improve and influence the decisions that affect them.
We would appreciate you nominating an individual who would be happy to take part in the discussions. We do have some flexibility on the timing of the meeting, so if you could please also indicate morning, afternoon or evening."
After some debate between River CC members with contributions from members of the public present River CC decided to politely turn down the invitation given the concerns expressed - including that given the public concern over proposed Ship to Ship oil transfers it might be misinterpreted if only one individual representing the community group should go to a closed "focused workshop" and decided to call for a public meeting instead.
Members also wanted to know more about the Moray Firth Partnership worked and their relationship with the Cromarty Firth Port Authority and the nature of the funding they receive from the CFPA.
River CC members voted to send the following response to the Moray Firth Partnership:
"Nairn River Community Council
·welcomes the interest shown by the Moray Firth Partnership in promoting discussion of regional marine planning issues in the Moray Firth;
·points out that the most urgent and sensitive current issue is the proposal to seek a licence to conduct STS oil transfers in the waters of the Firth;
·notes that there has already been substantial and widespread public discussion and action by residents in Nairn and in communities around both sides of the Firth on this specific issue;
·recalls that both River CC and West & Suburban CC submitted formal written objections to the original licence application;
·draws attention to other matters of current concern - notably the problem of bathing water quality - and also to the government's latest policy initiative on marine recreation and tourism;
·does not believe that a "short focussed workshop" for a small group, convened at less than a week's notice, and limited to one individual participant representing the Nairn CCs and/or community, is an adequate or acceptable way of taking forward consideration of this and other related aspects of marine planning and management in and around the Firth;
·and therefore proposes to respond to the Moray Firth Partnership's invitation by requesting them instead to convene a public meeting in Nairn at which Community Council members, local elected Councillors, and all other local community organisations [eg VisitNairn, the ANB, the Bathing Water Group, NICE, the harbour group, NRCG, and Crom/Nairn Rising] can engage in a round-table discussion about how the Moray Firth Partnership can more effectively reflect and represent the interests and concerns of local stakeholders in the development of local marine planning."