Did those of you who objected to the Ship to Ship Transfer of Oil in the Forth get the following copy letter? It seems that, as Susan Deacon says in her cover letter to CEC Corporate Services, policy responsibility rests with The Maritime and Coastguard Agency - hence Susan Deacon has passed on correspondence to Gavin Strang MP. It seems this is not once and for all sorted out, so we shouldn't go to sleep about this issue. Rhona Brankin claims that Ship to ship Transfers of oil have an excellent safety record - but what about all the concerns we have raised about what if a spill does occur - it would be an environmental disaster, not to mention the impact on those who live here and we seem to be having no say in this, if it is a reserved matter. What do you all think?
I suggest people email Gavin Strang to ask him what he is going to do about this but it also seems Forth Ports and Scottish Executive have some role in this decision too, albeit a secondary one. I would suggest email Gavin Strang, Susan Deacon and anyone else you can think of to raise this. Email:
(the latter two because their Wards border the Forth and also because perhaps they were at the meeting of S Exec with Councils mentioned in Letter 2 - and isn't Lawrence on or even Chair of some sort of Committee dealing with the Forth?anyone know?)
Letter 1 - from Susan Deacon to Henry Scullion, Corporate Services, City of Edinburgh Council - "Thank you for sending me a copy of the CEC's opposition to the above proposal. I am very much aware that there has been considerable concern from the local authorities and have raised this issue with the Scottish Executive. I am enclosing a copy of a letter from the Deputy Minister for Environment and Rural Development, Rhona Brankin MSP which was sent to Mr John Lindsay, Chief Exec of East Lothian Council. I trust this clarifies the position of the Scottish Exec. Given that policy responsibility rests with The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, I have also passed on all correspondence relating to this issue to Gavin Strang MP for his interest"
Letter 2 - from Rhona Brankin MSP to Mr John Lindsay, East Lothian Council - here comes the very worrying bit!
"Thank you for your letter of 1 July to Ross Finnie MSP, regarding the proposal for the Ship to Ship transfer of oil between tankers moored at designated anchorages in the Firth of Forth.
"As you are aware formal approval to this proposal by Melbourne Marine Services Ltd (MMS) falls under merchant shipping legislation, which is reserved to the UK Government, and policy responsibility rests with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) of the Department for Transport (DfT). Formal approval to such proposals ultimately falls to the Secretary of State for Transport. I note that you have also written to the UK Minister for Transport and in the expectation that he will address the issues you raise in relation to reserved matters I will confine my comments to matters falling within the responsibilities of the Scottish Executive.
"The S Exec is a statutory consultee in this process and I can confirm that a number of factual comments have been provided to the authors of the various documents that require to be submitted to and approved by the MCA before Forth Ports, as responsible harbour authority, can permit transfer operations to proceed. As a result the Executive is in regular contact with the DfT and MCA on the proposals. I note that your Council is also aware that the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has highlighted particular environmental sensitivities in the proposed transfer area and recommended that the MCA should undertake an 'appropriate assessment' of the implications of the proposal, as required under the Habitats Regulations. Once this assessment has been undertaken SNH will be in a position to give further consideration to this proposal.
"You seek the support of the Scottish Executive in opposing the proposal from MMS. While the Executive can well understand your concerns, such operations should perhaps be viewed against a history of STS Transfer operations having a good safety record worldwide. Broadly similar STS Transfer operations have been undertaken within Scapa Flow since 1974, and in recent years at the Sullom Voe and Nigg Oil Terminals, as well as at a couple of locations off the southern coastline of England since the 1960's. It is understood that all such transfers have been undertaken without any oil spills arising. Against this background the Executive looks to the MCA to ensure that the developer takes full account of the relevant guidance in preparing the necessary documentation in support of this proposal.
"The Executive will continue to maintain contact with the MCA on this matter in order to assist wherever possible. In this regard and you should already be aware that the MCA has called a meeting of statutory consultees to be held during the afternoon of 25 July in the Scott Exec building at Victoria Quay. I understand that your Council has been invited to attend, as well as Fife Council, Forth Ports, SNH, SEPA and SEERAD. I hope that the meeting will be constructive and that the concerns raised by your Council and Fife Council will be satisfactorily addressed."
Scary stuff - it seems there is to be no benefits plus lots of dangers (there may or may not have been any or many spillages but a spillage would be a disaster) to our coastline if this goes ahead - as far as I can see....so why are the S exec so positive about it seemingly from their letter??