Green MSP Ross Greer has welcomed a statement from a minister that, following significant changes to the proposals for oil rig decommissioning off the coast at Hunterston, the Scottish Government are revisiting their decision not to require a full Environmental Impact Assessment. The facility, which would require an estimated half a million tonnes of dredging on a site adjacent to the Southannan Sands, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), received planning permission last year. Following Freedom of Information Requests from local residents, it emerged that two government agencies, Marine Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage, had advised North Ayrshire Council that they would expect a full EIA. NAC decided that a full impact assessment was not necessary, a decision backed by the Scottish Government until this week.
In response to a question from Greer during Wednesday’s (6 March) Environment Portfolio Questions, the Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Mairi Gougeon conceded “Since the time the proposal was initially introduced… the proposals that have come forward have substantially changed, so officials are considering whether revised plans… require an impact assessment.”
Ross Greer, Green MSP for the West of Scotland, commented:
“I’m delighted to hear the government are reconsidering the need for a full environmental impact assessment, give how much the plans have changed. Decommissioning is a great way to create jobs as we move away from fossil fuels but there’s no need for it to come at a cost to the local environment, residents and workers. There’s certainly no reason not to even bother assessing that risk before such a huge project.
“I hope that the Scottish Government and North Ayrshire Council recognise this and finally listen to what many local residents and experts have been saying all along, that an EIA needs to be carried out and considered in detail. These checks exist for a reason. Two government agencies thought they were a good idea. It’s time to follow through on that advice.”