Update on Friends of the Firth of Clyde campaign to stop oil rig decommissioning in the Clyde

The Friends of the Firth of Clyde are currently fighting a proposal by Peel Port to develop an oil rig decommissioning plant at Hunterston. They are waiting on an imminent decision by Scottish Enterprise as to whether SE will grant Peel Port £10 million of extra funding to enable the plan to go ahead. Here Friends of the Firth of Clyde write about their objections to the proposal and how it got through planning without a proper environmental assessment.

Projects of this magnitude are required to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), but we believe that NAC’s decision to grant planning permission to Peel Ports without an EIA breaches several Scottish and EU planning and environmental laws and we desperately need legal advice in aiding us to challenge this planning decision.

With the exception of third world countries it is unheard of that a marine scrapyard of this magnitude would be located so close to a community. Indeed Shell has stated that their reason for choosing the ABLE yard in Teeside for the decommissioning of Brent was because it was not located near a community.

Support our action against oil rig scrap yard on the Clyde

The irreversible negative impact this notoriously polluting activity will have on our landscape, environment, community, tourism and wildlife is deeply concerning. The visual impact of such massive structures will dominate this scenic area day and night. The noise, gaseous and liquid emissions will cause pollution which will greatly affect the people living in the area and disrupt the entire ecosystem, especially the marine mammals: seals, porpoises and our famous bilingual television star dolphin called Kylie which all live just off the site.

Oil companies, by their own admission, have stated that decommissioning will result in the release of heavy metals, radioactive metals, and asbestos. They also acknowledge the significant noise impact to residents generated from the dropping and loading of metal. Toxic materials that will be released into the atmosphere will include:-

• Asbestos

• Zinc anodes

• Flame retardants, for example brominated flame retardants

• Diesel

• Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)

• Phthalates (plasticisers in flooring and cables)

• Hydraulic oil, grease and lubricants

• Isocyanates from polyurethane paints

• CFC and HCFC gases released from cooling agents

• Chloroparaffins

• Mercury

• PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)

• PFOS (perfluorooctyl sulphonate)

• PVC (polyvinyl chloride)

• Organotin compounds from anti-fouling systems

North Ayrshire Council (NAC) passed an application approving oil rig decommissioning without demanding an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to ensure that all risks to the environment were taken into consideration. Peel Ports have managed to circumvent EIA Legislation by deploying the practice known as ‘Salami Slicing’ which in this case has allowed planning permissions to be quietly approved without reasonable evaluation.

Under delegated powers, NAC decided to allow for the amendment of the local development plan, to permit decommissioning of oil rigs at Hunterston, without even insisting that the proposed developer submit an Environmental Impact Statement!

Hunterston Port. Image: Gordon Brown

On the 26th of October, Scottish Enterprise will present their due diligence to their board. If the board approve, a grant of 10 million pounds will be awarded to Peel Ports to carry out significant updates to the facility in order to decommission oil rigs. (Now remember they have only paid £300k in tax out of £220m of sheer profit!)

As a small community we are fighting against big business that has the backing of the Scottish Government. £240k of our money has already been given to Peel Ports to conduct a feasibility study of their own site! We are in no doubt that a manifest breach of EIA legislation as well as a breach to the Nature Conservation Scotland Act 2004 has occurred, but we need to raise the money for legal fees to fight our case.

For more information and to support their campaign, see their facebook page.

Click here to donate to the cause.