Support for #SaveSouthannanSands Campaign Grows: 100 attend public meeting at Largs Academy, 8th August 2019

Despite the short notice we were delighted to welcome on a lovely sunny evening in Largs over one hundred people to the Peel Ports oil rig decom proposals update meeting that was organised by Independent Councillor Ian Murdoch,  six months on from our first public meeting in Feb 2019.

MSP Ross Greer, who has championed our cause in the Scottish Parliament, joined us for the meeting and provided illuminating insights into the role of Scottish ministers and elected representatives in developments at Hunterston. Supporters may recall it was the Parliamentary Question asked by Ross in March 2019, that prompted MSP Kenneth Gibson’s shocking retaliatory supplementary  question and highlighted the political agendas running beneath the support for Peel Ports’ plans, irrespective of  whether it leads to the destruction of Southannan Sands SSSI. Listening to Kenneth Gibson’s outburst it appears that irreparable damage to the SSSI is considered an acceptable risk to take, as there is apparently a clause in the £10m grant awarded to Peel by Scottish Enterprise that if they damage the SSSI they will have to pay some of it back!

This of course totally misses the point – you can’t ‘buy’ a new SSSI when you have destroyed the one you have and Peel Ports, backed by their multi billion £ offshore parent company Peel Group, will have factored a cost benefit analysis of the risk of environmental damage into their business plan. The lack of transparency surrounding the application to Marine Scotland leads us to suspect that Peel would rather take the relatively minor financial hit than have the environmental impact on the SSSI systematically and transparently assessed.

Watch Ross Greer’s Parliamentary Question below:

The evening was chaired by Councillor Ian Murdoch who provided an overview of his tireless efforts to shine a light on North Ayrshire Council’s role in allowing the conditions under which the ‘salami slicing’ of early land based planning  applications allowed Peel Ports to progress their plans for decommissioning at Hunterston without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Ian has diligently analysed the planning processes and asked over 20 questions in council sessions over the past 12 months, council meetings are live streamed and all  archived in the NAC webcast library.

See below for a Quick Guide to Councillor Murdock’s Questions with web links: (NB hover over lower bar to click through pages)


IM NAC Council Questions June 2018-June 2019


Quick Links to North Ayrshire Council Webcasts:

Date of Meeting Click to connect to NAC Webcast and select individual questions from agenda
June 2018
December 2018
February 2019
March 2019
June 2019


The Friends of the Firth of Clyde (FoFoC) presented an overview of the unique ‘Ecosystem Service’ of the Seagrass Meadow and OPSAR protected species that are residents of Southannon Sands SSSI. This was followed by an update on the planning and licence applications to date, with particular focus on the importance of the ongoing Marine Scotland (MS) EIA Screening Opinion and the shocking revelations from a Freedom of Information (FIO) request in June that revealed the significant changes to Peel Ports plans.


View our presentation below: (NB hover over lower bar to click through slides)


Largs Update 08Aug19-2 FINAL


A question and answer session followed the presentations that allowed members of the audience to clarify their understanding and probe members of FoFoC further about planning and licensing issues. The discussion highlighted the growing public concern about the implications of there being no EIA of Peel Ports proposals for both the local area of Hunterston but also, as pointed out by Councillor Murdoch, for the future of planning and regulation of marine development all along the entire Firth of Clyde.

The meeting concluded with a call to action for everyone to tell MS “No Way Without An EIA”. We have already posted 1500 #SaveSouthannanSands postcards to Graham Black, Director of MS and this number is growing by the day, with individual postings and emails.

Everyone was urged to make a pledge and take urgent action:

  • Send a FoFoC Postcard to Marine Scotland – Postcards are available from Fairlie Village Inn or if you are a group contact us direct and we will send a pack direct to you.
  • E-mail Marine Scotland FOA Graham Black , click here for suggested text >>>
  • Lobby the 8 West Coast MSP’s: (Lab) (Con) (Lab) (Con) (Con) (Green) (None) (SNP)

Closing message from the FoFoC

Time is of the essence, there is overwhelming evidence that Marine Scotland should require an EIA of Peel Ports proposals, but we also know there are factors at play that are significant influencers on the planning and regulatory system. Our support is growing locally, regionally and nationally. We continue in the fight for transparency and rigour in the decision making processes for the licensing of decommissioning of oil rigs at Hunterston and we will take every step possible to hold the planning and regulatory authorities to account for the decisions they make that will affect Southannan Sands and the communities that live with the impact of Peel Ports plans now and in the future.“NO WAY WITHOUT AN EIA” #SaveSouthannanSands 

9th August 2019



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