Finnie condemns Lochhead's statement on ship to ship transfers

John Finnie, Justice spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for the Highlands and Islands, is condemning Richard Lochhead’s statement on the proposed ship to ship oil transfers across the Cromarty Firth as “too little, too late”.

Mr Finnie was responding to Mr Lochhead’s baffling decision to wait until after the consultation had closed to break his silence on the risky proposal.

The campaign against ship to ship oil transfers has gathered significant momentum in recent weeks, prior to the deadline for objections on February 8th. Mr Finnie has campaigned alongside coastal communities, local and national wildlife agencies and environmental organisations to oppose these dangerous plans, submitting a petition with over 3,000 signatures calling on the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to reject the proposal. Mr Finnie’s petition has continued to grow and now stands at over 3,500. Until yesterday, there had been no word from Mr Lochhead on the matter.

Mr Finnie said:

“The reaction of the SNP Government to these proposals has been hugely disappointing. Back in 2008 they were staunchly against this risky method, but this time around we’ve had several conflicting messages. Credit where credit is due, several SNP Highland Councillors have expressed their opposition to ship to ship oil transfers across the Cromarty Firth; but we’ve also had the leader of Highland Council claim that the SNP Government support the proposal and the Government simply released a bland and non-committal statement. It’s a disgrace.

“A Cabinet Minister of an SNP government calling for powers to be devolved is not news, it’s a smoke screen. I agree with Mr Lochhead, of course this is a decision that should be in the hands of the Scottish Government but what we need from him is not another tactical delay but a simple yes or no; does he support ship to ship transfers across the Cromarty Firth or not?

“These proposals have attracted huge, international public interest, with thousands of people expressing significant opposition to the plans of the Cromarty Firth Port Authority. There is real public concern around this matter, and the public deserve to know what the Cabinet Minister for Rural Affairs and Environment and indeed the MSP for Moray makes of these plans, and I urge him to make his views known.”