Published: 20/04/2017 13:46 - Updated: 20/04/2017 15:10

New date for Moray Firth oil transfer debate

Written byEmma Crichton

Opponents say there is too much at risk in the event of a crude oil spill, including the firth's rare bottlenose dolphins.
Opponents say there is too much at risk in the event of a crude oil spill, including the firth's rare bottlenose dolphins.

A HOLYROOD debate on ship to ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth, which was postponed following the Westminster terrorist attack, has been re-scheduled.

It will now take place in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday May 2, led by Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie who put forward the the motion.

Mr Finnie says the consequences of a spill during crude oil transfers would be "catastrophic" to wildlife and the local economy.

It will be for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to decide if the Port of Cromarty Firth at Invergordon is allowed to go ahead with the proposal and there will be no vote in the Scottish Parliament.

But Mr Finnie hopes to raise awareness on the issue and hear the response of Paul Wheelhouse, Scotland’s minister for business, innovation and energy.

Last month campaign group Cromarty Rising delivered a petition against the transfers, with more than 100,000 signatures, to Holyrood.

Mr Finnie said: "If ship to ship oil transfers are allowed to go ahead in the Cromarty Firth the consequences for marine life, including the iconic pod of bottlenose dolphins, could be catastrophic.

"The overwhelming majority of communities in the area, who would be in the front line of any oil spill, are opposed to ship to ship oil transfers, as are thousands across the country as the 103,425 signatures on Cromarty Rising’s petition demonstrates.

"The potential impact on the tourism sector, so important to the economy of the Highlands and Islands, cannot be overstated. I am therefore glad that my motion has achieved cross party support, and I look forward to leading a debate on ship to ship oil transfers."

The port is seeking consent to transfer up to 8.6million tonnes of crude oil per year between vessels in the Moray Firth.

The port has defended the plan, saying the majority of people who responded to a consultation were not opposed, adding that the port is acting in the best interests of stakeholders.

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