A local environmental campaign group has hit out at plans to use Loch Striven as a dumping ground for old oil rigs set to be decommissioned.
Peel Ports has submitted plans to dismantle oil rigs at Hunterston PARC in North Ayrshire near Largs. The company plans to use Loch Striven as a sort of waiting room before the rigs are towed into Hunterston to be taken apart.
Friends of the Firth of Clyde have been fighting these plans, angry that planning officials have evaded the need for a proper Environmental Impact Assessment on this massive project.
Peel Ports said it takes environmental issues very seriously and acts responsibly.
Under the plans the oil rigs would be towed from the North Sea down the West Coast and around Bute before being ‘parked’ in Loch Striven.
Rhona Cameron from the group, said: “Dredging will affect the marine life. The whole eco system will vanish from the Firth of the Clyde.
“They are going to stick them up Loch Striven before taking them to Hunterston PARC to be decommissioned. There is a Norwegian Company set up to do this.
“If they are bringing them around Scotland it’s the risk factor. They are going to have to pass around Bute.
“Why on earth are they doing this?
“There could be hundreds of oil rigs brought here from the North Sea. They are not actually saying how many are coming here, so who knows?
“And how an environmental assessment has been by-passed is incredible.
“It’s all been very dubious. There are big question marks on it, to the point where we are getting a legal team on it.
“We are hoping to halt this whole process.”
The application is currently live with North Ayrshire Council, with Scottish Enterprise poised to approve a £10 million grant next week.
Rhona said: “It’s been in the background and the community has never been told. Things are being passed through that are bordering on legality because of the environmental impact.
“We have not really been able to ask questions. It’s shut doors everywhere.
“North Ayrshire Council say it’s all for jobs but that’s rubbish. Only Peel Ports will benefit.
“So why is the Scottish Government funding this for a mere 100-200 jobs?
“We are very aware that there needs to be employment in the area. But given that there is 200,000 people in the tourism industry the money needs to go into that.
“It’s such a beautiful area. We want this money pumped into something better for the local area.”
Rhona explained how her group started: “This was set-up about three months ago. A young girl called Holly (19) started a petition about the oil rigs. So we all looking into it and what’s going on.
“There are a lot of people working on this, around 50/60 of us. We have a lot of clever people involved.”
A spokesperson for Peel Ports said: “We continue to work with the relevant regulatory authorities and agencies to progress the consents, permissions and approvals for decommissioning at Hunterston Marine Yard.
“We take environmental issues very seriously and act responsibly.
“This is why we’re confident that our decommissioning activities will be managed and operated in a sensitive manner to avoid any negative impact on the aquatic and terrestrial environment around the Firth of Clyde.”