Good news and a campaign victory from Scotland! Following pressure from several environmental groups, including SAS, Forth Ports have made the decision not to allow Russian tankers to transfer oil in the Firth of Forth.
The decision came only a few weeks after Shipping Minister Jim Fitzpatrick told the House of Commons that the Government would be bringing forward a consultation on regulating ship-to-ship transfers of hazardous substances in UK waters – a move welcomed by SAS.
Because of its twin role as plc and harbour authority, SAS believed it entirely inappropriate that Forth Ports had been both promoter and regulator of SPT Marine's scheme to transfer up to 7.8 million tonnes of Russian oil into ultra large crude carriers en route to the United States and the Far East. They were also set to benefit financially from the contract.
The Russian export blend crude oil had been described as very dense, thick oil, making it particularly persistent in the event of a spillage and a big threat to the Firth of Forth.
A Scottish Green Party investigation had previously found SPT were responsible for spilling around 35,000 gallons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico - but failed to disclose the information when providing official evidence to the Scottish Parliament. In written evidence to the parliament the company, SPT Marine, claimed an "excellent" record on ship-to-ship oil transfers by only referring to incidents dated after the shocking oil spill in 1995.
SAS campaigners were involved in several actions against the proposal and were on hand to present a petition to Forth Ports at their agm last year calling for them to say 'NO' to the proposal. We also made a 'Star Wars' inspired campaign film called Forth Wars that was watched by hundreds of people including some of Forth Ports shareholders!
The Firth of Forth is an exceptional marine environment and is highly valued by its many recreational water users, many of which use the water all year round and all of whom will delight in this decision!
May the Forth be with you always!