Over 300 Attend Friends of the Firth of Clyde Public Meeting at Largs Academy on 21st February 2019

Largs Academy FoFoC Presentation 21Feb19

 

The Friends of the Firth of Clyde (FoFoC) were heartened by the turn out for the Public Meeting at Largs Academy hosted by Largs Community Council on Thursday 21st February 2019.

Over 300 people, from local and further afield island communities, turned up to hear our presentation about the Clyde/Peel Port plans for Oil Rig Decommissioning  at Hunterston Peninsula. FoFoC  provided an overview of our understanding of the project; emphasised our whole hearted support for the development of an environmentally sustainable ‘circular economy’,  whilst also having significant concerns regarding the lack of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project; the scale and impact of the work required; the lack of evidence for promises of large numbers of jobs; and the risks to the wellbeing of local communities, along with the bird and marine life that is dependant on the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which surrounds Hunterston.

The audience were given the opportunity to ask questions of a panel of representatives from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and North Ayrshire Council. Representatives from Clydeport; Marine Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage sent their apologies.

Panel Members: Anne Carson (Chair), Largs Community Council; Karen Yeomans, Exec Director Economy and Communities, North Ayrshire Council; Jim Miller, Head of Planning, North Ayrshire Council; Alex Gallagher; Councillor & Portfolio for the Economy; North Ayrshire Council; Ian Murdoch, Independent Councillor, North Ayrshire Council; Pamela Armstrong, SEPA Application Lead; David Ogilvie, Sector Lead SEPA; David Walker, SEPA; Caroline DeJong-Briggs, Chair Friends of the Firth of Clyde; David Nairn, Environmental Advisor Friends of the Firth of Clyde & Fairlie Community Council; Clare Baguley, Friends of the Firth of Clyde.

The panel session started with Councillor Alex Gallagher giving a brief account of his trip to Shetland, Dales Voe to see the decommissioning facility that operates there. Councillor Gallagher explained he was one of several previous council members that had been before. He described how sections are floated into a ‘shed’ for dismantling. Unfortunately, the site wasn’t operating at the time of his visit, so he couldn’t comment in much detail, including on the noise levels, but Councillor Gallagher offered his view that it appeared relatively clean. Time was short and  FoFoC didn’t have the opportunity to ask further questions, which leaves a number of questions about the similarity of Dales Voe to Hunterston unanswered.

Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) provided a helpful overview of the situation with regard to licensing and the legal framework that they are required to work within. Sector Lead, David Ogilvie, outlined how this framework brings with it opportunities, but also limitations and how it is very important that the Oil Industry are involved in taking responsibility for the the decommissioning partners that they commission. Pamela Armstrong, who is overseeing the Hunsterston license application, gave a factual run down of the process to date relating to the current Waste Management License (WML) application that has been submitted, and her colleague, David Walker explained that, although the planning conditions had specified a Prevention, Pollution & Control (PPC) licence would be submitted, a WML actually provides SEPA with more opportunity to control. The WML licence application is still under consideration. The question of why reference to a PPC licence was consistently made throughout the planning agreement in reference to mitigation for all environmental risks, and whether this calls into question the nature of the original risk assessment, which ruled out the need for an EIA, remains to be answered.

This was followed by a lively Q & A session with the audience. The questions were wide ranging and forcefully made; including the fit of decommissioning with the recently announced £100m of investment for substantial development of tourism on the North Ayrshire coast; why an EIA cannot be done anyway if it would settle the communities’ concerns; and how a WML gives more effective regulation for decommissioning than a PPC License.

A surprise event happened during the panel discussion when Karen Yeomans, Exec Director Economy and Communities for NAC, produced a letter that has been received the day before from the Scottish Government that stated they supported NAC’s decision to not require an EIA. This letter was a response to a personal request for appeal of the original EIA decision submitted by Clyde Porpoise, CIC that was submitted back in August 2018. We’ve been awaiting the response with interest and having now seen a copy there are a number of questions about it that we will pursue. Of concern is that the letter does not respond to all the original objections or explain how the Scottish Government have reached their opinion; it is not signed, or officially CC’d to NAC, but oddly refers to sending a copy to East Ayrshire Council. We are taking our time to look into this letter and its contents and will respond in due course.

Independent Councillor Ian Murdoch provided an overview of his ongoing attempts to ask questions in the North Ayrshire Council Chambers about the impact and extent of the proposals. Ian has been steadfast in his challenge to NAC for full transparency and public consultation. Jim Miller, Head of Planning for NAC asserted his view that NAC have been consistently open and transparent in their management of the project.

One criticism was levelled at FoFoC  for being ‘nimbys’ who were happy to use oil based products, but not deal with the consequences; however the vast majority of  challenging questions from the audience were to our North Ayrshire Council representatives, and support for the aims of FoFoC was overwhelmingly positive from the audience.

The evening ended with a call to members of the audience to:

(i) sign up as a FoFoC supporter so we can stay in touch with further updates

(ii) urgently engage with their elected representatives to express their views

(ii) Contact their Community Councillors to find out if they will be attending the first official Community Liaison meeting  with Clydeport to be held on 18th March 2019, to have their voice heard and have input into the ongoing proceedings – as soon as we have more information we will let everyone know.

It was fantastic to hear so many people saying they had learned a lot from the evening and that they intended to sign up to support the aims of the FoFoC. A massive thank you to everyone who came along.

For more information contact us at: secretary@friendsoffirthofclyde.org  

 

 

 

Ross Greer MSP writes to Scottish Government Minister on behalf of the Friends of the Firth of Clyde

Ross Greer MSP has stepped forward to ask the Scottish Government to intervene in the failure of North Ayrshire Council (NAC) to require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the proposals for oil rig and large marine vessel decommissioning at Hunterston Penninsula.

Writing in support of the Friends of the Firth of Clyde (FoFoC), Ross has written directly to Rosanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform.  Supported by evidence unearthed by a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) recently submitted by FoFoC to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Ross outlines the case for an EIA to be undertaken and calls on Rosanna Cunningham to intervene by Ministerial Review.

Read in Full: MSP Ross Cunningham’s letter to Rosanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform (*Tip: Hover over bottom of page to reveal button to click through pages of document)

Ross Greer To Rosanna Cunningham Feb 2019 20190205190819414-2

 

Revealed: What did the authorities say about the need for an EIA ?

  1. The FIO revealed that at a ‘Screening Opinion Meeting’ held by NAC around May 2017, SNH representatives expressed the opinion that “due to the scale, introduction of new processes and complex nature of the entire project, that it would be sensible to request the production of an EIA.” (see page 10).
  2. The FOI asked ‘Can SNH recall how the [Screening Opinion] meeting concluded? Their response shows that NAC decided to ignore SNH opinion …‘At the conclusion of the meeting the Council indicated that they would consider the change of use application for the rig yard without an EIA of the entire project’ (see page 10)
  3. The FOI shows that the Operations Officer for SNH clearly expressed their “frustration” at the potential of the much larger project being divided into separate parts (commonly known as ‘salami slicing’). In a series of emails between SNH & Marine Scotland (MS) regarding whether an EIA should be required, the operations officer states: “…my frustration remains that we were told by the applicant that works were related to a larger project that would involve a change of use at the site. The re-development of the rig yard into a decommissioning facility could introduce a range of operations and processes which could potentially have a much greater impact and the over all project could well justify the request for an EIA” (see page 15).
  4. In an email to NAC MS states that the project may well fall under Schedule 1 of the EIA regulations as the site should be considered a ‘trading port or pier’ if they are loading vessels of over 1350 tonnes – Schedule 1 projects automatically require an EIA to be undertaken (see page 5).
  5. In the email dated 8th May 2017 from MS to NAC, reference is made to concerns expressed by Envirocentre, who are managing the project for Clyde/Peelport, about the pressing timescales for reaching a decision on the EIA to avoid conflicting opinions arising. This appears to be making reference to the 2017 EIA regulations that were due to come into force on 16th May 2017 introducing more stringent EIA requirements, which would strengthen the case for an EIA being required.

We thank Ross for his support of our cause to protect the Firth of Clyde  and await the response from Rosanna Cunningham Rosanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform with interest. 

WATCH THIS SPACE!

Strengthen our collective voice by signing up as a Supporter of the Friends of the Firth of Clyde. Sign up here >>>>

 

 

What Do You Need to Know About The Marine Scotland Licence Application?

Marine Scotland (MS) is the directorate within Scottish Government that is responsible for leading the protection of  Scotland’s coastal waters and seas with ‘the duel aim of  building sustainable economic growth from Scotland’s marine assets, and to safeguard its valuable marine ecosystems’. Marine licences are issued by Marine Scotland Licensing Operations Team (MS-LOT) which are required for activities including:

  • the removal of substances or objects from the sea bed
  • construction, alteration and improvement works
  • dredging

Hunterston Construction Yard requires all of the above to become a viable site for decommissioning. In 2016, GMB Scotland commissioned a review entitled ‘Status Capacity and Capability of North Sea Decommissioning Facilities‘, in this detailed analysis of decommissioning sites in the UK and Norway, Hunterston is evaluated (pg 55) as having the worst decommissioning readiness out the total 19 facilities across the UK (17) and Norway(2)

The scale of development required to make the site fit for purpose, is reflected in the scale and extent of the work expected to be applied for in the marine licence application. The dry dock is delict and requires substantial dredging, piling and construction work; plus there is the need for extension of the hammerhead quay. This work will include thousands of tonnes of sand being dredged from the area of Southannon Sands, which is the location of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) that is of national importance for its sandflats, with intertidal seagrass meadows and active shell fish bed, all of which are Priority Marine Features.

In addition, the construction work will require  substantial and prolonged piling required for the  installation of caisson gates. This work will produce high levels of vibration and noise in the marine and land environment, which is known to be harmful to the health of marine mammals and invertebrates. The area is home to a range of marine life including porpoise, seals and a very special solitary dolphin nicknamed ‘Kylie’, who inhabits the  waters immediately next to the proposed construction area. Kylie has recently received international recognition in the scientific community for being the first dolphin to be discovered  directly communicating with the porpoise that he lives with, you might have seen his story recently featured on the BBC One Show

All of this means it is essential that we hold Marine Scotland to account, to make sure that they fully scrutinise the marine licence application in light of all the facts of the development and assess its risks as part of the larger whole of the decommissioning project; rather than each separate element of planning and licensing being ‘salami sliced’ to avoid the full impact being scrutinised. Crucially we are calling on Marine Scotland to now require a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

We understand that the Marine Licence for ‘Hunterston Marine Construction Yard’ has been submitted, but it currently is still showing as in pre-application stage on the planning portal. We have asked to be informed when it is  open for public consultation.

On 20th December 2018, in advance of the licence application, the FoFoC sent  a formal letter to Mike Bland (CEO MS) outlining the significant flaws in the planning processes and explaining our reasons for requesting that that no decision be made about the application without the full environmental effects being considered and an EIA being undertaken.

You can read our full letter to Marine Scotland below.

What’s Next? Here’s where we need your help.

As soon as the Marine Licence Application is open to public consultation we will be asking all FoFoC supporters, their friends, family and concerned citizens to help strengthen the case for an EIA by writing to Marine Scotland expressing their concerns.

We know that many of our supporters are very busy and don’t have time to read and digest all the information in this complex and challenging case, so we are currently working on a Brief Guide to Objecting to a Marine Scotland Licence Application, so you can object with confidence that you are covering the important areas. As soon as we have this prepared we will share it with you.

Friends of the Firth of Clyde Letter of Objection to Marine Scotland 20th December 2018

Marine Scotland Letter (Final)

 

*Contact us direct for more information on the supporting appendices

Please Keep Watching This Space.

STOP PRESS! Public Meeting About Hunterston Decommissioning Plans on Thursday 21st February 2019, 7pm at Largs Academy Campus.

We are pleased to announce that the North Coast and Cumbrae Joint Community Councils` have been invited to a Public Meeting to provide the opportunity for  the communities of West Kilbride, Skelmorlie, Largs , Fairlie and Cumbrae  to learn more about the serious concerns regarding  Peel Ports plans to bring Oil Rig decommissioning to Hunterston Peninsula.

The public meeting is open to all and will take place on: 

Thursday 21st February 2019, 7pm at Largs Academy Campus.

We want to encourage as many people as possible to attend. Please spread the word. If you are already concerned, uncertain or just plain indifferent this is a vital opportunity to learn more and ask questions about what is happening in your own backyard to threaten the environment of the Firth of Clyde for generations to come.

The following letter has been sent to all North Coast and Cumbrae Community Councillors by Rita Holmes, Chair of Fairlie Community Council.

Dear Community Councillors,

Largs Community Council, at the request of Friends of the Firth of Clyde, invites you to a meeting to better inform the public regarding Peel Ports Plans for Oil Rig Decommissioning at Hunterston Construction Yard.

The area to be developed lies within an important Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and on one of the most beautiful waterways in Northern Europe. It would be remiss of the North Coast and Cumbrae CC`s not to fully address these proposals. Proposals which have the potential to seriously damage our beautiful waterway, our environment and our tourism.

There will be an update on the parts played by North Ayrshire Council, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage and Marine Scotland in the process so far and an Environmental Presentation from Friends of the Firth of Clyde followed by a Q and A session.

We hope you will attend and let your communities know that this is open to everybody.

Best Regards Rita Holmes (Fairlie Community Council)

Burns Night Fundraising Supper A Massive Success!

 

What a great night we had with all our friends and supporters, full of community spirit, intent on having fun and making the evening a great success! 

The Village Inn, Fairlie was packed to the rafters with Friends of the Firth of Clyde (FoFoC) supporters for an evening of food, music and dancing in support of our mission to demand full regulatory and environmental scrutiny of proposals to bring oil rig decommissioning to the Hunterston Peninsular.

Piped in by the fabulous Fairlie piper Alistair Beveridge, over 80 guests were greeted at the door of the Village Inn for the start of the evening. Caroline warmly welcomed everyone on behalf of FoFoC and young Kate Shelly confidently recited the Selkirk Grace. Ken Tully then gave a stirring Address to the Haggis, followed by a Scottish poem reading from another young talent Jamie Shelly. Last, but not least, the supper was concluded by David Nairn, who raised the roof, and a few eyebrows, in his highly entertaining Address to the Lassies, followed by Nic Macaulay-Smith who gave a suitably witty and robust Reply to the Laddies leaving the committee, aka “The Fairlie Flappers”, calling for more!

Following the lively auction and raffle, the hugely talented Chanty Dyke Ceilidh Band gave a fantastic performance and entertained guests until the night drew to a close at midnight.

We are delighted that the event raised approximately £2800, all of which will go to the FoFoC legal fund.

The event was made possible by the generosity and community spirit of so many people, special thanks go to:

  • Alistair, Ken, Kate, Jamie, David and Nic for their skilled oration
  • Chanty Dyke for donating their fabulous performance, we hope that the whip round and cries for more made the evening as enjoyable for you as it was for us.
  • Everyone that so generously donated such fantastic raffle and auction prizes: Haven Spa / Christine Ewing / Rachel Ewing / Liz Kent / Rhona Cameron / Cyndy Duff / Mavis Briggs / Ann Brooks / Chandlers Hotel / Geraldo’s / Arnold Clarke / No. 75 Hairdressers / Ian Ewing / Alistair Houston / Holistic Yoga / Clyde Porpoise / Liam McIlvanney / Scott McGregor / Ian Murdoch / Marion Gilchrist / Elisabeth and Bill Thomas / Kelburn Country Centre / Sian Kater / Miles Montgomerie / John Fox / Hamilton Race Course / Church Pew Scotland.com

Fairlie Community Church for loan of the tables.

Massive thanks to Brian and all the staff at the Village Inn, Fairlie for their excellent food, good humour and efficient service – you were great!

All our supporters who gave so generously to the raffle & auction; and the whip round for Chanty Dyke and the staff of the Village Inn.

All our friends and family for putting up with the endless conversations about Oil Rigs!

What’s Next?  Watch this Space!  This is the first of a number of events we intend to hold through the coming months. Keep in touch, sign up as a Supporter today and receive regular updates.

 

Friends of the Firth of Clyde Fund Raising Event: Friday 25th January 2019, The Village Inn, Bay Street, Fairlie.

Thank you to all of our fantastic FoFoC supporters!  

We have been overwhelmed by the interest in our Burns Night fund raising event on Friday 25th January 2019 and tickets for the supper are now sold out.

We know that lots of our supporters couldn’t make the night, but still want to be involved and there are a number ways that you can still take part:

Join us on the night after 9pm to enjoy the excitement of our auction of paintings and luxury gifts; and listen to the music of the popular Chanty Dyke Ceilidh Band. Tickets will be available on the night for £5 on the door from 9pm onwards. Come along we’d love you to join us!

Buy tickets for our fabulous high quality raffle. Tickets can be purchased on the night or in advance from The Village Inn. £10 for 4 tickets. Click here to see what you can win in the raffle.

Place an advance bid for one of our exciting auction items.  We are incredibly lucky to have a number of generous and talented supporters who have donated original works of art, holiday breaks and numerous other luxury goodies. The art work can be viewed at The Village Inn, Fairlie.

Auction Listing:

Photograph on Canvas – Wooden Boat on Fairlie Beach, by Ian Ewing. Bids Start at £100

Original Acrylic Painting – Firth of Clyde, by local artist Mavis Briggs. Bids Start at £250

Annual Family Pass – Kelburn Country Centre – covers the whole of 2019 for 2 adults and 3 children. Bids Start at £50

2 Tickets – Hamilton Race Course – Braveheart Night inc Big Vern n The Shootahsin May. Bids Start at £20

Photograph on Canvas – Portencross Castle at Night, by Iain Murdoch. Bids Start at £70

Original Painting / Collage – 2 fishing boats, by local artist Ann Brooks. Bids Start at £150

Holistic Yoga – Course of 10 with Joanna Ritchie. Bids Start at £30

No. 75, Fairlie- Hair Blowdry, nails shape and polish. Bids Start at £20

To place a bid contact Friendsoftheclyde@gmail.com

 

Friends of the Firth of Clyde Fund Raising Raffle

We have been overwhelmed by the demand for our Burns Night fund raising event on Friday 25th January 2019 and tickets are now all sold out.

We know that many of our supporters couldn’t make the night or weren’t able to get a ticket, but you can still still be involved by buying tickets for our fabulous high quality raffle in advance from The Village Inn, Bay Street, Fairlie. Tickets cost £10 for 4 and the draw will take place during the evening of the event.

Here is a preview of the prizes on offer: Star Prize: A Plane Tour of Loch Lomond; a Luxury  B& B Stay at Chandlers Hotel on the Beautiful Isle of Bute; and a case of Whisky. Good Luck!

Want to support the Friends of Firth of Clyde? 

We will be hosting more fund raising events with food, music and fun thrown in over the coming months. Sign up to become a Supporter of the Friends of the Firth of Clyde and receive all the details as soon as they out.

Press Reports Hunterston Oil Rig Plans May Face Another Wait

 

The Ardrossan Herald reported this week that the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA)  may delay their decision on granting the Waste Management License (WML) that Clydeport / Peelports submitted in October 2018 . SEPA told the Herald that “The application was received on 4 October. Whilst SEPA has a four month period to determine the application this can be extended if further time is required.”

FOFOC have vigorously challenged the application for a WML rather than a Pollution Prevention & Control (PPC) permit, highlighting that the decision to not require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) prior to planning permission for decommissioning at Hunterston being granted by North Ayrshire Council (NAC) was based on the assumption that a PPC would be submitted to SEPA. Crucially the PPC regulations apply an integrated environmental approach to the regulation of industrial activities. This means that emissions to air, water and land, plus a range of other environmental effects, must be considered together.

In addition we  have pointed out that SEPA itself was / is not in a state of organisational readiness to make a judgement on the license application, as they were still out for consultation on their own Oil and Gas Decommissioning Sector Plan  when the WML application was submitted. The Sector Plan is an interesting read and says a lot of the right things – however it also clearly illustrates how unprepared statutory  authorities and regulatory bodies are for the complexity of decommissioning.

On the 12th November 2019 FOFOC wrote to Terry Ahearn, CEO of SEPA to outline our objections FOFOC to SEPA WML Objections 12 Nov 2018

This resulted in a meeting on 3rd December 2018 in Fairlie held between representatives of FOFOC and SEPA where we made it clear we do not consent to Hunterston and the Firth of Clyde to becoming a salutary test case for  the regulation of the emerging decommissioning industry in Scotland.

We will continue to lobby SEPA and urge all concerned citizens to make their own representations to Scottish Environmental Protection Agency; North Ayrshire Council; Marine Scotland; Scottish Natural Heritage; Clyde Marine Planning Partnership; your local Councillors & MSPs.

If you wish to show your ongoing support for Friends of the Firth of Clyde Join Us as a Supporter for regular updates and information.