John calls on Scottish Government to come clean on oil transfers



John has reiterated his call for the Scottish Government to give a clear statement on its position in the Cromarty Firth Port Authority’s live application to carry out ship to ship oil transfers in the open seas of the Moray Firth.

Earlier last week, John launched a campaign to block risky plans to carry out ship-to-ship transfers of oil in the Cromarty Firth with the campaign petition, Stop Ship to Ship Transfers Of Oil Across The Mouth Of The Cromarty Firth, attracting worldwide support.

In addition to the petition John had written to key decision-makers, including lobbying Councillors across the Moray Firth area.

Responding to John’s request to support the growing opposition to ship to ship transfer on the open seas, Councillor Maxine Smith, Leader of the SNP Group on the Highland Council, who represents the Cromarty Firth Ward, advised Mr Finnie that the application had the support of the SNP Scottish Government and that she had “no concerns at this time” regarding the application

Commenting on Councillor Smith’s email, John said:

“This is an astonishing position for the SNP, the Party of Government, to adopt in relation to a highly sensitive live application. I would urge the Scottish Government make clear its position on what role it has played the application by the Cromarty Firth Port Authority.

“The communities who will be most affected should the licence be granted and there be any resulting spillages, are very clear that they have grave and pressing concerns.

“We cannot continue to promote Scotland globally for wildlife tourism if we permit activities which not only endanger any potential tourism revenues, but more fundamentally put in danger the health of the wildlife that sustains it. Our coastal communities deserve better.”

In today’s Inverness Courier (26/01/16) a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government recognises that ship-to-ship transfer of oil is an internationally recognised practice that is important to the shipping industry and has an excellent safety record in UK waters. However, we remain vigilant to the need for careful consideration in sensitive waters to ensure the highest standards of protection for our marine environment.”

Commenting on the Scottish Government statement John said:

“This bland set of platitudes from the Scottish Government do not address the central concern of the communities that will be affected by this application. Nor does it address the claim of the Leader of the SNP on Highland Council that the Scottish Government supports the application by Cromarty Firth Port Authority to carry out oil transfers in the Cromarty/Moray Firth.

“The highest possible standard of protection for this precious marine environment is simply to block any plans to carry out the oil transfers, anything short of that is putting private profit ahead of protecting our environment.

“Ahead of the Cromarty and District Community Council meeting tomorrow the Scottish Government must make clear where it stands on this application.”

The Cromarty and District Community Council will be held in the West Church Hall on Wednesday, 27 January at 7.30pm.

Please sign and share John’s petition against the plans.