News that the UK Government has delayed new rules to protect the Firth of Forth from ship-to-ship oil transfers has been condemned by SNP MSP Roderick Campbell.
The fresh delay is the third hold up to changes in shipping regulations which were first promised more than two years ago.
The promises of changes followed a concerted campaign from the SNP Government and Scottish Parliament to protect areas of marine importance. The delay is due to an act passed by the UK coalition government to suspend and review the proposed new regulations.
Roderick Campbell, SNP MSP for North East Fife which includes the beaches and fishing ports of the East Neuk said:
“This is disastrous news for a practice that is extremely dangerous and has no place in the Firth of Forth. The UK Government promised only in June this year it would introduce new rules to stop any further attempts for ship-to-ship transfers in the Forth.
“For the ministers to have agreed the change but it to be delayed by new regulations about new regulations is simply farcical.
Mr Campbell described the delay as “huge blow” to campaigners and warned that even a small oil spill could devastate wildlife and tourism for Fife. Urging the UK government to take action quickly he added:
“It is over four years since proposals for Ship to Ship transfer in the Forth were first made and the opposition to them now is as strong as it was then.
“This is just another example of the importance of transferring marine powers to Scotland so we can protect our seas in the way we see fit.
“Offshore marine control should be devolved to Scotland which would mean Scottish ministers would be able to block plans for ship-to-ship oil transfers in the Forth.
“I have written to Richard Lochhead highlighting the urgency of this situation and how catastrophic it would be if these transfers caused an oil spill. With plans to close the Forth Coastguard also coming from the UK Government there are serious questions over how a spill would be dealt with.”