Oil Leak 29 – complain, it’ll get you nowhere

In oil leak 25 we mentioned that Marine Scotland have so far, said nothing, and indeed this was the subject of a complaint signed by five Highland Councillors – it took Marine Scotland 16 weeks to respond to the complaint and avoiding the issue completely. You can read the complaint HERE. You can read the response HERE.

Here’s some points that might be of interest, for example:

  • These regulations do not provide a role for Scottish Ministers in the granting of oil transfer licences to harbour authorities.
  • Marine Scotland is part of the core Scottish Government and neither Marine Scotland nor the Scottish Government is listed as a consultee in the Port of Cromarty Firth Application…..

Well technically Marine Scotland were not included as a consultee but after much questioning of the MCA it would appear that they very much were a consultee – they were omitted by oversight in the original application.  There is therefore a role for Marine Scotland and as Sir Alan Massey, head of the MCA told us, Marine Scotland chose not to deliver that role – why? We can only assume that, given they were preparing a response prior to the initial consultation and chose not to submit it, that they were instructed directly from a Minister of the Scottish Government. No one will tell us. The general response is “let not go over the past – we need to move on and look at what Marine Scotland will do in the future.” Indeed, that is a laudable aim which we would be more than happy with if Marine Scotland would actually do anything!

  • I am confient that SNH and SEPA , as statutory consultees, highlighted potential risk to the marine environment from the application……

We are confident also that SNH and SEPA highlighted those risks, but wait on a minute – it is Marine Scotland that regulate activities in the Marine Environment and it through agreement with SNH, it is also Marine Scotland that award licence to disturb European Protected Species in the marine environment such as bottlenose dolphins and other cetaceans. So that doesn’t wash with us. In fact it is more Marine Scotland’s area of interest that either SEPA or SNH. Why the silence?

  • Your letter has asked for your concerns to be raised as a formal complaint. The Scottish Government complaints procedure relates to matters which the Scottish Government has a responsibility in delivering a service. As explained, this was not the case in this instance.

Cop-out. The Scottish Government does have a responsibility in delivering a service – namely, responding to the MCA as statutory consultee. As far as we are concerned this complaint has not been dealt with properly. The letter then goes on to state how the Scottish Government has asked for the power to grant STS licences to be devolved.

  • We have now learnt that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has asked the Cromarty Firth Port Authority to undertake additional work on this application. We believe the requirement for this additional work provides an opportunity to begin a dialogue about the Cromarty Firth Port Authority application and the handling of oil transfer licences in general.

Great – Marine Scotland see an opportunity to speak to the MCA. We’ve seen this requirement all along and we expect to see a proper consultation response this time round. As for the initial consultation, we have serious concern as to what happened – we intend to find out.