PROTESTERS have vowed to remain vigilant to ensure controversial ship-to-ship oil transfer plans are “never resurrected” in the Cromarty Firth.
The Port of Cromarty Firth this week confirmed that it was mothballing its plans for the open water oil transfers, amid a wave of protests that they risked causing irreparable damage to the ecosystem and the resident bottlenose dolphin population.
In its community newsletter the trust port announced that “due to higher priority projects the port will not be pursuing the re-submission of our ship-to-ship at anchor application”.
It did not wish to comment further, but the news comes just over a week after it confirmed plans for a £30m energy and cruise hub expansion at Invergordon.
Cromarty and District Community Council said it was “fantastic news” for the protest group Cromarty Rising, which was set up to oppose the oil transfers, and would also be greeted with relief among residents.
Cromarty Rising was also delighted, but added that it would “remain vigilant” to ensure the plans stay mothballed.
Thanking its supporters, it said: “[It’s] not an admission of defeat by the port but the nearest we will ever see in print and, for whatever reason, it’s great for the communities and environment of the Inner Moray Firth that this project has finally been dropped and testament to what people can do when we get together for a common cause.”
More than 100,000 people signed an online petition opposing the transfers.
And Highland Green MSP John Finnie believes this “people power” and “great work” by Cromarty Rising and fellow protest group Nairn Rising was a factor in this “victory”.
Kate Forbes, the SNP constituency MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch – which includes the Black Isle – said the decision demonstrated that “the most remote communities in Scotland have great weight”.
“My constituents will be delighted that they do not intend to apply for a ship to ship license,” she added.
“This is a victory for local residents who actively resisted any risks to our marine wildlife, local economy or international reputation.”