I have written to the Secretary of State for Transport to highlight concerns about the potential impact of ship-to-ship processes in the Moray Firth, and to renew my calls for the power to make such a decision to be devolved to Marine Scotland. The text of the letter can be found below. Best wishes, Drew
Text of letter sent
I am writing to you on behalf of my constituents, many of whom have been in touch with me to raise concerns about the Ship-to-Ship transfer licence application, submitted to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency by Cromarty Firth Port Authority.
In addition to the many emails I have received from concerned residents, I have also discussed the situation with local businesses and community groups, and have sought to understand the wide-ranging concerns around our marine life, air, and noise pollution. I have also met with the Cromarty Firth Port Authority to get a full understanding of their plans and I have carefully listened to their economic arguments, the safety considerations they have made and to their rationale for the application.
In light of all those discussions, I believe it is incumbent on me to act on behalf of my constituents, to give voice to communities in my constituency that will also be affected if a licence is granted.
I fully accept that Ship-to-Ship transfers happen safely in other parts of the UK including in Scotland, however it does not follow that all locations are suitable for the process. Therefore, it is vital that the application review process gives careful deliberation to all the environmental, economic, and social implications of awarding this licence. The marine landscape of the Moray Firth is fragile and, understandably there is a strong feeling that any activity that increases risk in this area should not be given the go ahead.
I had previously raised concerns about the governance of decisions affecting our coastal communities in the North of Scotland with your predecessor and it is in this regard, that I write to you. I strongly believe the organisation best placed to review the situation here in the Moray Firth, is Marine Scotland and the recent memorandum of understanding between the UK Government and the Scottish Government offers the opportunity for a better model of working – to achieve better outcomes for our coastal communities.
Applications for ship-to-ship transfers should be based on an informed position, considering the impact of all affected communities, therefore I urge you to build on this new memorandum of understanding and to devolve the responsibility for issuing ship-to-ship licencing in Scottish waters to Marine Scotland, under the governance of the Scottish Government.
Drew Hendry MP
Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey