SNP Call For Scotland To Decide On Forth Oil Transfers

08 May 2006
Europe to look at possible environmental breach

Bruce Crawford, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife and Edinburgh based MEP Alyn Smith today called for the decision on Ship to Ship Oil Transfer in the Forth to be taken by the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive.

The two SNP representatives also lodged a response to the consultation on oil clean up plans for the Forth, as well as filing papers with the European Commission on potential breaches of the Habitats Directive.

European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas asked for further information on the project to see if it was compliant with EU environmental rules.

Speaking from North Queensferry at the site of the proposed transfer MSP Bruce Crawford said

"This is not a decision that should be based on whether or not the plans are good enough if there's an oil spill. This is a decision that should be based on the overall merits of the proposal versus the potential damage it could cause to the Forth and it is a decision that must be taken in Scotland by the Scottish Parliament.

"It is not good enough that this is the only chance we get to have a say on these disastrous proposals, and it is certainly not good enough that local authorities and the Scottish Parliament do not have the power to stop them going ahead.

"The SNP submission is calling for a full consultation process on the whole proposal - a consultation process under Scottish control, at the end of which Scotland's elected representatives will make a decision."

MEP Alyn Smith who joined Mr Crawford in Fife said

"European rules say there must be an "imperative reason for over-riding the public interest" to allow a development like this near so many protected and important marine and bird life sites. There also must be no alternative.

"I am sure there are plenty of alternatives and I cannot believe there is an imperative reason why Ship to Ship transfer has to take place in this way at all. That's why I contacted the European Commissioner and I am very pleased to hear that he wants more information on this project and will look closely at its environmental impact.

"I would suggest that Melbourne Marine Services and Forth Ports look again at what they are planning.

"The UK has already been in court for failing to implement the Habitats Directive, if this goes ahead they may be breaking it. What we need is a full examination by the Scottish Executive and Scottish Parliament of this proposal - only then will the correct decision be made."