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Ship to Ship Licences

May 3, 2017




The SNP’s Gail Ross, Member of The Scottish Parliament for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, has today (Tuesday 2nd of May), called on the UK Government to make it a priority of their new parliament in June to devolve at sea oil transfer licences to the Scottish Parliament.


Ms Ross contributed to the debate in the Scottish Parliament on the 2nd of May, debate John Finnie MSP’s motion on the subject of ship to ship transfers in the Cromarty Firth.


Speaking after the debate, Gail said:


“Ship-to-ship oil transfers in an area of such great environmental significance are extremely controversial, and the prospective application has raised concerns among communities on all sides of the Cromarty Firth.”


“The proposed operation would involve a transfer of crude oil in open waters, with ships at anchor close to the shore, right on the breeding ground of a pod of bottlenose dolphins in an area of significant environmental importance. That area of my constituency holds a hugely valuable ecosystem and I cannot impress enough on members the importance of that environment to the local community and its significance in marine science and to Scotland—not just the local economy—as a tourist destination.”


“The port authority must take on board all the concerns of the community, the RSPB and Whale and Dolphin Conservation. The concerns are not only about an oil spill. The Scottish Wildlife Trust, SNH and SEPA have raised concerns about biosecurity, ballast discharge, the recovery of beached oil and tidal flows. The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland is also worried about the environment and tourism. All those organisations are concerned about contingency measures and the consequences of spills or fumes, which could harm the area’s fragile ecosystem.”


“As it stands, we await the new application to see how—or whether—it addresses the concerns of communities. I feel strongly that the port authority and the communities have to work together on the matter. There has to be an appropriate assessment under the European habitats directive—that is a vital part of the application that was lacking the first time round.”


“Last night we were debating a reserved matter, the decision is made by the MCA and the UK Government. I fully support the call for the Scottish Government to have fully devolved powers over all at-sea oil transfer licences, at present, the Scottish Government has no consultative or legislative power over applications such as this, the only courtesy that they will be given by Westminster will be advance notice of the decision of any outcome of the application.”


“Decisions over applications which could have a dramatic impact on our environment should and must be made in Scotland. I call on whichever party gains power after the General Election in June to devolve this power to Scotland.”

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