I have written to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to highlight concerns about the potential impact of ship-to-ship processes in the Moray Firth, and to the coastal communities I serve, including Nairn and Ardersier. The text of the letter can be found below. Best wishes, Drew
Text of letter sent
Dear Sir Alan,
I am writing 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 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. I have 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. I have also met with Cromarty Rising and have sought to understand the wide-ranging concerns around our marine life, air, and noise pollution.
In light of all those discussions, I believe that I must act on behalf of my constituents and give voice to communities such as Nairn and Ardersier, who would also be affected if a licence is granted for Ship-to-Ship transfers in the Cromarty Firth Port Authority jurisdiction.
Whilst I accept that Ship-to-Ship transfer is a relatively safe practice and operates in other parts of the UK, it does not follow that all locations are fully suitable for the process. Therefore, it is vital that your review process gives careful weight of deliberation to all the environmental, economic, and social implications of awarding this licence.
In the first instance, I seek assurances that the impact assessment carried out does indeed include all affected coastal communities including Nairn and Ardersier in my constituency. I also ask that you confirm what considerations have been given to low-level discharge, potential air, and water pollution.
There are also serious economic concerns – as these communities rely heavily on tourism, particularly focused around the beach and entire waterfront area. I have received many letters raising concerns about the impact the ship-to-ship transfers would have on Nairn’s tourism economy, including the vital development work that is ongoing with Visit Nairn, Community Councils, and many other community groups.
Finally, the marine landscape of the Moray Firth is as fragile as it is diverse and there is a strong feeling that any activity that increases risk in this area should not be given the go ahead. I fully appreciate that the Cromarty Firth Port Authority has submitted this application in the context of their wider business model and this also aims to support jobs and the wider economy, however I do not accept that the perceived economic benefits outweigh potential negative implications, a granted licence could have on the entire area.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Drew Hendry MP
Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey