Euro Pressure Builds On Ship To Ship Case

05 September 2006
SNP Europe Spokesman Alyn Smith MEP has kept up the pressure on Ship to Ship oil transfers in the Firth of Forth by raising the matter in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Mr Smith praised the European Commission for stepping in to investigate the potential impact on Scotland's environment, when the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency has approved the scheme. Speaking in a debate on the establishment and funding of a European Maritime Safety Agency designed to co-ordinate response to pollution incidents, Mr Smith said:

" We, in Scotland, an oil-producing maritime nation, have a live debate on proposals to transfer oil from ship to ship at sea, in an area of special scientific interest covered by the Birds Directive, the River Forth. This is an area precious to Scotland's natural environment.

"There is almost total opposition to these proposals in Scotland and yet the United Kingdom Maritime and Coastguard Agency just yesterday gave its approval for these potentially disastrous plans to go forward."

Speaking after the debate, he added:

"It is telling that the EU has provided a more sympathetic ear than the UK authorities, and I was delighted that the Commissioner responded so positively to my call for an investigation. This is good news as the EU can overrule the UK if the investigation finds that oil transfer would be too risky in the Forth.

"This is just another example of how the SNP is preparing for government in Scotland next May, an SNP led Executive would have been the first to knock on the Commission's door for help in blocking this scheme, where the Executive has been conspicuous by its silence leaving it instead to me".

ENDS

A radio interview with Mr Smith on ship to ship transfer is available from quadrant media at www.radioep.com

Note to Editors:

The text of Mr Smith's speech on proposals for controlling and funding the clean up of pollution caused by ships is printed in full below

Alyn Smith (SNP). -

Mr President, pollution crosses borders and requires urgent co-ordinated action to deal with its consequences, so it is wholly appropriate that we create at EU level a framework to deal with it.

I congratulate the Commissioner and our rapporteur for their excellent work on this matter, but it is only a start. The best cure is prevention. We, in Scotland, an oil-producing maritime nation, have a live debate on proposals to transfer oil from ship to ship at sea, in an area of special scientific interest covered by the Birds Directive, the River Forth. This is an area precious to Scotland's natural environment.

There is almost total opposition to these proposals in Scotland and yet the United Kingdom Maritime and Coastguard Agency just yesterday gave its approval for these potentially disastrous plans to go forward. Fortunately, the EU can take a bigger view. Commissioner Dimas has launched an investigation into the potential environmental consequences of these proposals and I hope his investigation will stop these proposals from being implemented.

While I welcome and support the Commission's proposals, they are a start. I believe we can go further. I believe my Group wants us to go further still. These proposals are stopping a disaster from happening but, of course, dealing with its consequences is only part of the picture, we must prevent them also."

END