Measurement and Testing

Why Are There Protestors on Scotland's Nairn Beach?

Dec 26 2016 Comments 0

Scots aren’t shy about fighting for their freedom, a stereotype that the Cromarty Port Authority is now experiencing first hand. Recently, the governing body announced plans to allow tankers to swap crude oil while anchored in the Moray Firth, Scotland’s largest inlet. Branching off the North Sea, the Moray Firth has become a hotspot for ship-to-ship transfers. If the plans go ahead, millions of tonnes of crude oil could begin to change hands in the heart of the environmentally sensitive area.  

The ‘Cromarty Rising’ campaign

Until now, transfers have been automatically approved. However, a law change is now forcing the Cromarty Port Authority to apply for a Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) license for the process to continue.

The plans immediately attracted fierce opposition from locals, who are concerned that spills could seriously impact both the natural environment, as well as the dynamic Highland tourism economy. In response, more than 500 protestors descended on the shoreline at Nairn Central Beach, with people travelling from as far as Lossiemouth and Buckie.    

The application ignited opposition throughout the coastal communities of the Moray Firth, with an internet petition gaining more than 20,000 signatures. Not only is the Inner Moray Firth designated as a Special Protection Area for wildlife, but it’s also one of Scotland’s most popular places to watch dolphins and whales.

Port bosses defend plans

In retaliation, port bosses have been quick to highlight that more than 250 “incident free” ship-to-ship oil transfers have taken place over the past 30 years. Bob Buskie, Chief Executive of the Port of Cromarty Firth maintains that environmental concerns have already been addressed, and that "If the licence is granted, we will insist that all ships comply with the new convention and implement a ballast water management plan, where all water is treated before it is discharged.”

Furthermore, he stresses that as well as the MCA, the Cromarty Port Authority will also be submitting its application for review by several leading bodies, including Marine Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, The Highland Council and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

"The MCA will then call a meeting between these statutory consultees, the Port and our consultants to discuss the consultees’ comments on the refined application, before making a decision," he bolsters.

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