Oil Leak 86 Councillor McCallum replies

Good news, Cllr McCallum, Highland Council convenor has finally provided reply to an email sent by one of our team over a month ago. The reply has been copied from another response received from the council and lays out how the council will deal with the new STS application, however it at least it sets out the council’s position clearly. We are particularly heartened to hear that “the views of the full council will be sought on the response to any new application”. Given that there is an election due in May, it would be good to know Cllr McCallum’s thoughts on the matter – is she for or against? Maybe someone can ask. We still await a reply from Cllr Barclay.



Thank you for your email dated 16 January 2017 concerning the above.


The Council was consulted by Cromarty Firth Port Authority regarding an application for a Ship to Ship Oil Transfer Licence Application in December 2015.  The Council’s response was made in advance of the application being considered at the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee for homologation on 17 February 2016.  This response provided a range of comments for consideration but neither supported nor objected to the proposal. To date, we have not been consulted further on this matter.

The following link gives details of the agenda and papers for the above Committee meeting:


As you may be aware, the Marine and Coastguard Agency has directed Cromarty Firth Port Authority to withdraw the December 2015 application and submit a new application.  Please be assured that any future application will receive full scrutiny by the Council in respect of all environmental, economic and social implications.  Following discussion at the Highland Council meeting on 15 December 2016, it was agreed that any subsequent application will be considered at full Council.  I hope you take from this some confidence that all of the issues and concerns raised directly to the Council and local Members will be taken on board in the Council’s formal response.  We are not yet aware of the timescales involved in the submission of a new application, and it may be some months off.  Rest assured the views of full Council will be sought on the response to any new application, when it is submitted.

The onus of appropriate consultation lies with the Cromarty Firth Port Authority and the MCA.  The Council’s response highlighted that there was significant local concern to the proposal in our original report and this will be re-iterated when we are re-consulted on the proposal.

In common with other local authorities, and indeed offshore operators, Highland Council is not expected to maintain a comprehensive in-house resource to deal with major oil spills. The structure of the National Contingency Plan for Marine Pollution from Shipping and Offshore Installations acknowledges this by allowing for the deployment of national resources if the response is beyond the capability of one local authority.  If shoreline becomes affected by a major oil spill in the Moray Firth, it is likely that Highland Council would respond by engaging specialist oil spill contractors (such as Briggs Marine, Braemar Howells, OSRL or Adler and Allan) to supplement its resources. The Council’s Oil Pollution Contingency Plan (currently under revision) establishes the means of escalation, command and control and a framework for working with specialist contractors, volunteers, MCA, SEPA and other partner agencies.

I trust this clarifies the situation.

Yours sincerely


Councillor Isobel McCallum

Convener of the Highland Council