Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016
Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie today called on the Scottish Government to end its silence over the application for ship to ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth.
Following calls by the SNP MP Ian Blackford for a decision on the application to carry out ship-to-ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth to be delayed so that the Scottish Government may be consulted, Mr Finnie has expressed his disbelief that Scottish Government was not proactively protecting Scotland’s environment.
Commenting Mr Finnie said:
“The Scottish Government is responsible for protecting Scotland’s environment; that it would not respond to a consultation with severe environmental consequences because it wasn’t directly asked beggars belief.
“Somehow, despite not being directly asked, many ordinary citizens were able to respond to the consultation ran by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, calling for the application to be denied on environmental grounds.
“The Scottish Government should have been well aware of the application; indeed the SNP Leader on Highland Council said ‘I understand from the Scottish Government and one of our MP’s in the SNP that this licence has the support of the SNP government’.
“For the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment Richard Lochhead to keep silent throughout the consultation process and the day after it closed to ask for the decision to be devolved smacks of playground politics. I support all decisions concerning our precious marine environment to be devolved too but that in no way excuses the Cabinet Secretary’s silence.
“Incredibly, the Scottish Government has stated it believes the Cromarty application will transfer the wrong type of oil for it to oppose the application. 
“Sadly, rather than protect our interests, it is clear that this call for a delay is simply an attempt to wrong foot the electorate ahead of the Scottish Parliamentary elections, perhaps – as with CalMac and fracking – leaving all the bad news until after May.
“The public have a right to know the Scottish Government’s stance on the application and the SNP should get on with telling us, rather than bleating about how the UK Government dropped the ball by not sending them an embossed invitation.”
John Finnie has been a Highlands and Islands MSP since 2011 and is the lead Scottish Greens candidate in the forthcoming Holyrood election.
Notes Exchange between Mr Finnie and the Cabinet Secretary, 11 February 2016. Official Report:http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=10365&i=95366&c=1910464#ScotParlOR