Oil Leak 219 Public Petitions Committee Response – part 6

The Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament sat recently and as we reported on oil leaks they agreed to write to the Scottish Government (again). SEPA, SNH, MCA and the Scottish Government all responded to our petition. We were then allowed to respond to these organisations – now the response to SEPA:



SEPA make some important points. Specifically:


SEPA considers the scope of the legislation should be sufficient where the competent authority is mindful of the standards set by Scottish domestic legislation and Scottish regional policies as well as the concerns raised by the responsible conservation and environmental agencies. Decisions related to ship to ship transfers are subject to the objectives and policies set out in Scotland’s National Marine Plan which includes ballast water management and the risk of transferring non-native species.”


In relation to the CFPA application, we are of the opinion that Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), as competent authority for STS licensing, has not been mindful of the standards set by Scottish domestic legislation and Scottish regional policies. For example, there was and has been no reference whatsoever to Scotland’s National Marine Plan. Marine Scotland’s draft response did refer to it, and “in particular to policy 13.30 relating to ballast water exchange”, as it should, but of course that response was never sent. The matter of compliance with Scotland’s National Marine Plan also needs to be followed up by the Public Petitions Committee.

Policy 13.30 of the National Marine Plan states:


Biological pressures: Ballast water is internationally accepted as a key vector for

incidental movements of aquatic species around the world. The IMO Convention for Ballast

Water Management has been drawn up in an effort to reduce the risk of transfer of marine

non-native species. While the convention has not yet been ratified, OSPAR’s contracting

parties have agreed interim voluntary guidance on water exchange standards. Ballast

water treatment and management methods are being developed to ensure that the ballast

water is treated to a known discharge standard i.e. any organisms in the discharged

ballast water will have to be below a certain abundance to comply with the Ballast Water

Management Convention.


“Water exchange standards” is a reference to the IMO D-1 standard, while reference to treatment to “a known discharge standard” is a reference to the IMO D02 standard. SEPA’s response says:


SEPA welcome the undertaking that ballast water discharges would be only to IMO standards. SEPA recommend that where D-2 compliant treatment systems are available these must be used. The D-2 standard offers a much higher level of protection from biological species than D-1.


In relation to the above-quoted ballast water management policy in the National Marine Plan, we wish to point out to the Committee (a) that the IMO Convention for Ballast Water Management comes into force on 8 September 2017, from which date any STS licence must comply with the standards mentioned, and (b) that new technology for shore-based treatment of ballast water to achieve the D-2 standard is now available, making the Nigg alternative even more attractive in terms of minimising environmental impacts. With ballast water holding tanks already available, Nigg facilities also have the capability for ballast water re-cycling without ballast water discharge to the SAC.