Ship-to-ship oil transfers
In 2007 the Scottish Seabird Centre successfully challenged controversial proposals to transfer oil between ships in the Firth of Forth.
The proposals took advantage of inadequate UK marine shipping legislation and would have involved millions of tonnes of Siberian crude oil being transferred in the Forth to massive trans-Atlantic tankers bound for the US. The Seabird Centre lobbied against this and delivered a petition with thousands of names to the First Minister.
The proposals were also fiercely opposed by communities, local authorities, MSPs and environment agencies and were subsequently withdrawn. However, the proposal highlighted that there was a significant and worrying gap in UK legislation, despite the 1994 Donaldson Report, after the Braer disaster in Shetland recommended that ship-to-ship oil transfers should be restricted to “certain specified areas” and that regulations should be “brought into force as soon as possible.”
Successive UK governments ignored this advice, leaving the UK coastline and wildlife exposed to the risk of pollution from ship-to-ship oil transfers outside harbours and controlled areas.
In 2010, the Centre was delighted to announce a ban on the practise of ship-to-ship transfer of crude oil around the UK’s coastline, following an on-going programme of lobbying, in conjunction with the RSPB, MPs and environmental agencies.
Earlier that year, Scottish Seabird Centre Chief Executive Tom Brock OBE and the Seabird Centre’s mascot, Tammie the Puffin, travelled to London to raise awareness of the issue. In association with East Lothian MP, Fiona O’Donnell, Tom Brock met 24 MPs from across the UK at the House of Commons to highlight the need to change the legislation.
The environmental and financial costs of an oil spill around our coastline would be catastrophic, posing a major threat to our precious marine environment and wildlife, as well as to thousands of jobs in fishing and tourism.
We also recently objected to proposals for ship-to-ship transfers off the Cromarty Firth.
The Seabird Centre will continue to lobby on this issue until the necessary legislation is in place.