Text of letter sent to the Leader of the Highland Council on 5th January 2017
Dear Leader of the Council,
I am writing to you ahead of a Special Meeting of the Highland Council on the subject of the Ship-to-Ship transfer licence application, submitted to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency by Cromarty Firth Port Authority. As the Member of Parliament for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey; I wish to express my opposition to these proposals, and would add my name to those of the representatives of the coastal communities, within my constituency, that may be affected by this decision.
Since the first public meeting held in Nairn, many constituents have contacted me to express their concern. In addition, I have received nearly 300 responses to a recent survey I posted on the issue. Of these responses – 98% have identified as ‘I’m against the ship-to-ship transfer proposals’. I have also discussed the situation with many local businesses and community groups.
I have already written to the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and to the Secretary of State for Transport highlighting the opposition to these proposals and to ask that all the environmental, economic, and social implications of awarding this licence are assessed. I have sought assurances that the impact assessment carried out does indeed include all affected coastal communities including Nairn and Ardersier in my constituency. I will continue to pursue this matter in Westminster alongside my Highland MP colleagues and will keep the Highland Council appraised of progress.
I have also met with the Cromarty Firth Port Authority to hear their views and plans. Whilst I appreciate that the 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, I find that I support the view that the perceived economic benefits do not outweigh potential negative implications, a granted licence could have on the entire area.
Therefore, I hope that, as a statutory consultee, the Highland Council will join me in raising concerns about the environmental and economic impact on these coastal communities. Nairn, in particular, relies heavily on tourism, particularly focused around the beach and entire waterfront area.
Drew Hendry MP
Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey