Greens Push Council Over Ship to Ship Oil Transfers

Green Councillors this morning won agreement that Edinburgh Council will make an official protest to the UK Government over its refusal to bring in new laws banning the transfer of millions of tonnes of crude oil between ships at anchor in the Forth Estuary [1].

The call by Green Councillor Steve Burgess to make representation to HM Government came at this morning’s meeting of the Council’s Transport Infrastructure & Environment Committee and after an amendment received cross-party backing [2].

Cllr Burgess, the Greens’ Environment spokesperson said; ” A large oil spill in the Forth Estuary, devastating our local environment and economy is unthinkable. So it’s vital that the Council makes this view known to the UK Government in the strongest possible terms.

“Particularly given what’s going on in the Gulf of Mexico, it’s outrageous that the new UK Government has seen fit to bow to oil-industry pressure to stop the ban on ship-to-ship transfers coming into force.

“There was widespread national opposition to this back in 2007 and nothing’s changed except that there’s a new Government at Westminster whose environmental credentials are clearly suspect.”

“Unfortunately, my proposal that the Council Leader write to the Prime Minister was not supported by the LibDem led Administration. Perhaps the Leader would have been more comfortable writing to her party colleague the Deputy PM. However it’s good that there will now at least be a representation made to UK Ministers.”

NOTES:

1. Following a proposal by SPT Marine Services in 2005 to begin ship to ship transfers of oil in the Forth, environmental concerns about potential oil spills and a campaign led eventually to opposition to the proposal in the Scottish Parliament in 2007. In April 2010, before the general election, regulations (reserved to Westminster) were laid before Parliament to ban ship-to-ship transfers outside harbours in UK waters. The new laws were due to come into force in October. However, following industry pressure the coalition UK Government has announced that the regulations are being put on hold while a new consultation is launched.

2 . CEC Transport, Infrastructure & Environment Committee , July 27; Item 8.10 Ship to Ship Transfers of Oil in the Forth

– motion by Councillor Burgess (as amended by the LibDem/SNP Administration to delete that the Council Leader would not write to the Prime Minister)