THE campaign against the transfer of crude oil in open waters is gaining momentum as a second protest group has been formed.
Nairnshire Rising has been created on the back of the success of Cromarty Rising, set up to oppose plans for ship to ship oil transfers in the Moray and Cromarty firths.
The group has set up protests in the Highlands and at the Scottish Parliament and their petition against the Cromarty Firth Port Authority proposals gathered more than 1000 signatures.
Now campaigners living in Nairn and the surroundings, who have been supporting Cromarty Rising, have formed their own group to put more pressure on UK Government body, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, to reject any future applications for a ship to ship licence.
This comes after a Holyrood debate on the issue, when Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie called on Scottish Government ministers to intervene by refusing a licence to disrupt the habitat of bottlenose dolphins, a European Protected Species (EPS), which is essential for the transfers to go ahead.
But business minister Paul Wheelhouse insisted it is a matter for Westminster, sparking Nairnshire residents to take further action.
More than 500 people attending a protest on Nairn beach earlier this year, highlighting the strength of feeling in the seaside town.
The two Rising groups will work together to oppose the transfers.
Iain Bruce, who helped set up Nairnshire Rising, said: “The debate at Holyrood was a milestone event as politicians from across the spectrum came together to speak out against the plans to exploit our pristine natural environment for their own financial self interest.
“Unfortunately the official Scottish Government position is that it is a reserved matter and not their problem.
“This is a matter of semantics and betrays their position in 2010 when they stood against a similar proposal for the Firth of Forth.
“The Scottish Government an act in the interests of all Highland communities by making the protection of our Highland communities inviolate.”
Nairnshire Rising has also sent an open letter to Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish cabinet secretary for the environment, calling for more to be done.
Those against the proposal say a spill would be devastating for wildlife, including cetaceans, and will damage the tourism industry on which the area’s fragile economy relies.
But the port authority insists transfers can be carried out safely.
A previous application was withdrawn for amendments but a new one is expected later this year.