SNP Take Ship To Ship Case To Brussels
Mr Crawford and Mr Smith will spend Tuesday morning (Oct 17th) meeting with senior officials in the European Commission's Environment Department including the head of infringements.
Speaking ahead of the meeting Mr Crawford said
"There is a great deal of uncertainty and confusion over the proposals to transfer oil between ships in the Firth of Forth. This is a protected and environmentally vulnerable area.
"The Commission have asked to hear our concerns. We're taking with us the concerns of the local authorities around the Forth and the environmental bodies who are seeking a fair hearing for their case.
"Our legal system is set up in a way that means Forth Ports are already facing conflict of interest accusations as they are the regulatory authority for a decision they stand to benefit from and the Scottish government has no meaningful powers at all.
There are problems with a system that makes those responsible for the decision those who also benefit. That's just one of the issues I want to question EU officials on.
"Westminster is determined to play no part and the Scottish Executive is standing back from the issue. The SNP takes Scotland's environment seriously and as we work toward government next year we want to see this issue properly and fully investigated.
Speaking from Brussels Alyn Smith MEP said
"The Forth is unique, it is specially protected, even the Westminster government have classified it as high risk. Ship to Ship could increase the risk of an oil spill by 30%.
"The Commission have asked to hear our concerns, we're not here to accuse anyone, but we intend to set out to the Commission the concerns of the SNP and the concerns of those around the Forth. I hope the Commission will be able to help us.
"The independent environmental impact assessment is ongoing and we want to make sure that all angles are fully explored in Brussels.
"It's time to take responsibility and make sure that we do not sit back and let a potential environmental nightmare into the Forth."
Note to Editors
The meeting which takes place on Tuesday (17th Oct) comes after the European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas agreed in the summer to investigate whether there have been breaches of the Habitats Directive in relation to the proposals for Ship to Ship transfer.
This investigation was in response to a series of letters from Mr Smith and Mr Crawford.
Bruce Crawford MSP and Alyn Smith MEP will be meeting the Head of Infringements within the Directorate General for the Environment and a Director of the Communication, Legal affairs and Civil Protection directorate.
The meeting will take place at DG Environment in Brussels at 10am Tuesday 17th October 2006.
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