Oil Leak 90 A letter to the MCA

Further to last nights oil leak on the upcoming Highland Council purdah – here’s a letter we wrote to the MCA on that very subject. We had a very prompt reply to say that the matter had been raised within the MCA and Department for Transport and the a formal response would be sent shorty, watch this space!


Mr Stan Woznicki

Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Counter Pollution and Salvage Branch

Bay 2/11

Spring Place

105 Commercial Road


SO15 1EG

Dear Mr Woznicki

Re: STS application 2017 Port of Cromarty Firth (POCF) 

I am writing to you on behalf of the members of Cromarty Rising, the wider Black Isle and neighbouring communities.

We are aware from your MCA Press Statement and telephone conversation you and I had some three weeks or so ago, regarding the POCF STS application process that MCA acting on behalf of The Secretary of State for Transport (SoST) have instructed the POCF to withdraw their 2015 STS application and make a new 2017 application, which you expect to receive in the coming days. Integral with your instruction to submit a new application is a requirement to undertake a full statutory and public consultation.

Recent Press comment and unsolicited statements from Highland Council elected members and some unelected Council Officers suggest the POCF may be withholding submission of the new application until such time as the Highland Council are in a period of recess and purdah, between 10th March 2017 and 5th May 2017 inclusive, in order to complete their statutory re-election and selection of elected members.

If this were to be the case, non-elected officers are expecting to respond to the application on behalf of the Highland Council and so exclude, or avoid, the application coming before the fully elected member council for debate and a democratic vote. This would, if it is correct, in our opinion, be a clear manipulation of the process by POCF, acting in collusion with unelected officers of the Highland Council.

What assurance are you able to give members of the public, that the MCA, as the competent authority and guardian of the application process, on behalf of SoST, will ensure that as a statutory consultee any new 2017 application, if presented, will be given the opportunity to be put before the elected Highland Council members in Chamber, acting within their quorate and full democratic capacity?

It is our opinion, and that of a growing group of elected members that to do otherwise would be a breach of the intended process and the guidelines set out by MCA. You may argue this is a moot point or beyond the MCA remit. As elected representatives of the people depriving the Highland Council elected members of a democratic debate deprives the people of their opportunity to be consulted through their elected representation and would therefore be a manipulation of the process which MCA set out.

Some senior members of Highland Council have sought to assure the electorate and wider communities of the Black Isle, Nairn and surrounding areas the 2017 application will reviewed and debated in Chamber before full council, however there are other officers offering a counterpoint argument. Your clarification would be much appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to respond to this question.