Monday, March 21st, 2016
Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie has called for a halt to Cromarty Firth Port Authority plans for risky ship-to-ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth, after it emerged that the Court of Session is to hear evidence that the Authority is constituted illegally.
Scotland’s highest civil court will tomorrow (Tuesday 22 March) hear evidence that the Scottish Government acted outside its legal powers when it relaxed the rules under which the Cromarty Firth Port Authority chooses its Board of Directors. In the opinion of a QC engaged by the former owners of Port Services (Invergordon) Ltd, this would mean every decision made by the legally flawed Board would be open to challenge.
Mr Finnie warned that it is now unclear whether Cromarty Firth Port Authority was legally competent to apply for the license to conduct ship-to-ship oil transfer operations. He has written to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, asking them to suspend consideration of the application until it can be shown that the request was legal.
John Finnie has been campaigning to stop the proposed oil transfers, and his petition against the plan has so far gathered over 3,700 signatures. 
“It is already clear that the proposal to pump oil between ships in the open sea, away from the security of the harbourside, is an unacceptable threat to the priceless ecosystem of the Moray Firth, including its iconic dolphins, porpoises and whales, and puts the Firth’s fishing and tourism industries at risk.
“Now it emerges that the application for the oil transfer license may not even be legal.
“We cannot pre-empt how the Court of Session will rule on this issue. As long as any suggestion exists that Cromarty Firth Port Authority is improperly constituted then no decision as serious as the ship-to-ship application can reasonably go ahead. The application process must be suspended at least until the legal status of the Port Authority is settled.”
John Finnie has been a Highlands and Islands MSP since 2011 and is the lead Scottish Greens candidate in the forthcoming Holyrood election.
- Motion A750/15, L C Management Service (Scotland) Ltd v Cromarty Firth Port, is due to be heard by Lord Doherty at the Court of Session in Edinburgh from 9am on Tuesday 22 March.
- Change.org: Stop ship-to-ship transfers of oil across the mouth of the Cromarty Firth – https://www.change.org/p/cromarty-firth-port-authority-maritime-maritime-and-coastguard-agency-stop-ship-to-ship-transfers-of-oil-across-the-mouth-of-the-cromarty-firth