8th March 2020
Peel Ports have published their report of the results of the Public Consultation on the development of Hunterston PARC held during May/June2019. The consultation outlined a number of proposed uses for the site – including Marine Construction & Decommissioning, which is the item that specifically relates to Oil Rig Commissioning. In addition, Liquid Natural Gas Terminal and Gas Turbine Power Station appeared as options, alongside Aquaculture, Plastics Recycling, Modular Construction, Concrete Batching and Train Manufacturing.
The report provides an overview of responses from both individuals and organisations. Supporters will recall that FOFOC were so concerned about the lack of proactive local community engagement supporters helped with distribution of the leaflets and we conducted our own survey which was shared with Peel Ports. We were pleased to see our formal written response to the consultation and the results of FOFOC survey included in the analysis.
What are the key messages?
- There was least support from respondents for Oil Rig Decom, LNG Terminal & Gas Turbine Power Station.
- There was most support for construction activities and aquaculture.
- There were concerns about the environmental impact of development and a number of respondents called for an EIA of the whole site.
- Green energy and tourism were favoured as alternatives
- Criticism of Peel Ports and their tenants as neighbours was expressed.
- North Ayrshire Council Planning Committee outlined opposition to LNG storage and would encourage a renewable energy strategy for the site.
- The Scottish Government response regarding LNG as an ‘alternative hydrocarbon resource’ energy stream raises serious questions about compatibility with zero carbon targets by 2045.
- The Scottish Government questions how the proposed uses have been co-ordinated with other development interests in the area and how the approach taken responds to sensitive land uses around the site and the sensitivities created by the proposed uses.
So What Does It All Mean?
It’s difficult to know, as the report provides such a high level broad brush picture that has very little detail on the where, when or the how.
It contains a number of controversial suggestions, of which so far oil rig decommissioning is the only proposition that Peel Ports has attempted to move forward. As is well documented, our experience of this process shows that the planning and regulatory systems in place to protect both the environment and the health and wellbeing of the local community struggle to be fit for purpose when it comes to complex projects such as Hunterston PARC and do not compete on a level playing field in the minds of local and national authorities against economic arguments – even when the rigour of modelling applied to job and employment estimates is highly questionable.
Finally, one of the biggest questions is that as the consultation has been conducted after the regional planning cycle has been initiated, what is the meaning of it or is this all just part of an expensive box ticking exercise?
The Hunterston PARC Liaison Committee will be meeting on Monday 20th April 2020 and we will be asking our Community Council and North Ayrshire Council representatives to ask what are Peel Ports next steps?