Oil Leak 46 A letter from Nairn

The P&J publish a letter from an incensed Nairn resident earlier in the week – this was in response to the CFPA’s attempt to rubbish Drew Hendry’s poll of Nairn residents’ views, where the Port spokesperson tried to assert that “only 2% of the population of Nairn had expressed opposition to STS….” . You may remember that this was the subject of oil leak 40. Unfortunately the published letter was edited, however, we’ve been given permission to publish the full letter – the edited text is shown in red. Enjoy!



It is depressing to note that – yet again – the kneejerk reaction of the Cromarty Firth Port Authority to reports of local concern about their proposal for ship-to-ship (STS) oil transfers is to dismiss the evidence of such concern as “the views of a minority”.

The latest example, which would be laughable if the issue were not so serious, is the claim quoted in the P&J report [8 Jan – Iain Ramage] that only 2% of the population of Nairn are opposed to STS.

This is misleading and fallacious.  If indeed the entire population of Nairn (some 10,000 people) had been consulted, then it might be possible to ascertain what proportion were for, or against, the proposed new scheme.  But the Port Authority has adamantly refused to consult the communities on the southern side of the Firth in any way at all.  If they have conducted, as they claim,  a “more representative measure of public opinion” in Nairn or indeed anywhere else, then let them publish the details, the methodology and the analysis in full.

Drew Hendry MP, to his credit, has made a systematic attempt by a survey to ascertain the views of his local constituents.  The 300 responses are of course only a sample.  But the fact that 98% (294) of those were firmly opposed is statistically significant.  It is reasonable to infer that this sample broadly reflects the overall opinion of the town’s population.  

That survey result certainly offers no basis for POCF to assert that the 294 who expressed opposition are the only people in Nairn to oppose STS;  and it is ludicrous to then imply that the rest of the population of the town are not opposed to, or are supportive of, the proposed new operations.  

The cumulative evidence is compelling.  Over 500 local residents turned out at a gathering on Nairn beach in December to express their opposition.  Both of Nairn’s Community Councils have registered unequivocal objections.  The elected Councillors of the town, meeting in the Nairnshire committee, have formally decided to oppose the proposal.

It is perhaps symptomatic of the weakness of the Port Authority’s case for conducting STS operations that their response fails to address the very telling core point of Drew Hendry’s public statement, in which he says “I do not accept that the perceived economic benefits outweigh the potential negative implications [which] a granted licence could have on the entire area.”.  Instead the POCF has again resorted to feeble attempts to rubbish the evidence of local community views.

It may be an inconvenient truth for the Port Authority that there is overwhelming opposition around the local region to their proposed new operation.  But they would do better to acknowledge the seriousness of residents’ concerns, rather than relying on a “shoot the messenger” tactic whenever any evidence of local opposition to their plans is made public.

Yours etc