The MSP for the Black Isle will tonight (2 May) warn developers submitting planning applications not to “ride roughshod” over rural communities across the Highlands and Islands, and instead listen to their views.
Kate Forbes MSP is expected to make the comments in a debate in the Holyrood chamber about at-sea ship to ship oil transfers.
The Black Isle MSP has been supporting the Cromarty Rising campaign, which adamantly opposes oil transfers in the middle of the Cromarty and Moray firths – an EU-designated area for bottle-nosed dolphins.
Kate Forbes MSP will say: “Here is a word of advice to any prospective developers out there, and it’s a principle that can equally apply to other planning applications – be it in the middle of the water or on dry land.
“As the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, I am passionate about small Highland communities' having a voice when it comes to decisions taken on their doorsteps - and Cromarty Rising have certainly made their voice heard loud and clear.
“It is incredible that over 100,000 people - and the number keeps rising - have signed their petition on the 38 Degrees website.
“But whatever the issue, and whatever the outcome, developers, planners and decision-makers must not neglect to engage with local communities and listen.
“I am not against ship to ship oil transfers per se - but in the right place, with the right scientific evidence.
“On both counts I feel that the application for the Cromarty and Moray Firths has not met the high standards that we should impose on any development in an area of national environmental importance."
The Black Isle MSP will add: “I support many of my constituents on the Black Isle who are adamantly opposed to ship to ship oil transfers in the Moray and Cromarty Firths for environmental reasons.
“This is an area of key significance, with a rich wildlife and marine environment – indeed it is a EU designated area for bottlenose dolphins.
“Though I did not don a dolphin costume, I was pleased to join the Cromarty Rising rally outside of this Parliament in January, and I was also pleased to support the group as they submitted their petition to the Public Petitions Committee in March.
“It is clear that this is a complex subject and many legitimate issues have been raised.
“The Public Petitions Committee have written to the Scottish Government and other relevant stakeholders like Marine Scotland, and I look forward to reading their responses to the petitioners’ pertinent questions – and hope some answers will be given when the committee picks up the petition again later this month.”