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Summary

  1. The Environment and Climate Change Committee takes evidence on air quality in Scotland
  2. Topical questions features a question on decreasing farm incomes
  3. The Environment and Land Reform Committee leads a debate on deer management in Scotland
  4. The Rural Economy Committee leads a debate on crofting law reform
  5. Green MSP John Finnie leads this evening's member's debate on ship-to-ship oil transfers on the Cromarty and Moray Firths

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Colin Bell

All times stated are UK

That's all for today folks

That concludes Holyrood Live's coverage of the Scottish Parliament on 2 May 2017.

Scottish Parliament
Scottish Parliament

We're back in the morning with the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee will take evidence from Fergus Ewing on the digital strategy.

And don't forget first minister's questions is tomorrow at 1.30pm! 

Join us for extensive coverage as ever.

Until then have a lovely evening.

Scottish government expects stakeholder views to be taken into account

Paul Wheelhouse
BBC

Mr Wheelhouse says he hopes the secretary of state will take on board legitimate views of local stakeholders. 

The business minister says there are a wide range of stakeholders and the Scottish government expects their views to be taken into account. 

Mr Wheelhouse says the Scottish government will hold the secretary of state for transport to account on decisions. 

He says he hopes the secretary of state listens and thinks carefully about the application when it is submitted.

Minister says it is remarkable UK government did not consult with Scottish government

Protestors on Nairn Beach
Rowena Cameron
Protestors on Nairn Beach

Mr Wheelhouse says the decision as to give a licence is reserved to the secretary of state for transport at Westminster.

The minister says the UK government must listen to advice from Scottish National Heritage.

He says the Scottish government will press the UK transport minister to consult with it and take heed of the Cromarty Rising petition.

Mr Wheelhouse says the UK government has conducted a light touch review but remarkably did not consult with the Scottish government.

He says the UK transport minister has been made aware of the Scottish government's feelings around this.

Scottish government does not have planning powers in this particular case says minister

Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse says he takes to heart the feelings of those who live along the Firth. 

Mr Wheelhouse says the first minister has made the government's position clear and the government remains unconvinced that the ship-to-ship oil transfers should take place at this location.

Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse
BBC

The business minister says the Scottish government has no power over this and that it is a matter reserved to the UK government. 

He says the UK government failed to devolve powers to the Scottish government and it is not even recognised as a consultation body.

Mr Finnie intervenes to say if the government is saying that it can do nothing then it is a "dereliction of duty". 

Mr Wheelhouse says the government does not have planning powers in this particular case. 

Background: Petition with more than 100,000 names opposes ship-to-ship oil transfers

A licence is to be sought for ship-to-ship transfers of oil in the Moray Firth
bbc
A licence is to be sought for ship-to-ship transfers of oil in the Moray Firth

Campaigners fighting against planned ship-to-ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth have handed a petition with more than 100,000 names to Highland Council.

Port of Cromarty Firth has proposed the transfers of oil at sea. It has said the work could be done safely and without risk to the environment.

In January, it withdrew an application for a licence for the operations and began preparations on a resubmission.

The petition was handed to council leader Margaret Davidson.

Campaigners oppose the planned transfers because of concerns that the operations would harm the environment.

Read more here.

Green MSP says there is a 'fuzzy boundary' between Westminster and Holyrood on the issue

Green MSP Mark Ruskell
bbc
Green MSP Mark Ruskell

Green MSP Mark Ruskell says communities on every side of the Forth rose up against the threat of ship-to-ship oil transfers in 2006.

Mr Ruskell asks what has changed since then and says it "seems very little".

He says there is still a "fuzzy boundary" between Westminster and Holyrood on ship-to-ship oil transfers.

Mr Ruskell highlights the failure of the UK government to even consult the Scottish government on its review on the issue.

He says Cromarty Rising and their community should be applauded. 

A spill 'would be devastating'

SNP MSP Gail Ross
BBC

SNP MSP Gail Ross says this prospective application has raised concerns across the Firth.

Ms Ross says the difference with the operation being proposed is that oil would be transferred in an area of strong economic importance.

The SNP MSP says people feel like they are not being listened to despite the Port saying that they are listening.

She says a spill "would be devastating". 

Tory MSP praises efforts of Cromarty Rising

Tory MSP Liam Kerr
bbc
Tory MSP Liam Kerr

Tory MSP Liam Kerr welcomes Cromarty Rising to the gallery and praises their efforts to get over 100,000 signatures to their petition to the UK transport minister.

Mr Kerr says accidents can happen in ship-to-ship oil transfer.

The Tory MSP says the Cromarty and Moray Firths are a beautiful and vital part of Scotland and are an extremely valuable part of the Scottish economy.

He says if another application is submitted then the views of local must be taken into account and a full consultation must take place.

All the facts should be on the table when the decisions are made

SNP MSP Kate Forbes
BBC

SNP MSP Kate Forbes says she supports many of her constituents from the Black Isle, some of whom are in the gallery today, who are against the proposals.

Ms Forbes says the question at the centre of this debate is "why? Why risk it". 

The SNP MSP says she looks forward to reading the response from the UK government to the petitioners. 

She says the Scottish government hears the concerns of the local community and says it will do all it can. 

Ms Forbes says all the facts should be on the table when the decisions are made and there should be a proper formal consultation with the Scottish government. 

Labour MSP says further application for ship-to-ship oil transfer would be a risk to far

Labour MSP Claudia Beamish says Cromarty and Moray Firths are places of environmental significance.

Ms Beamish says the additional risk of ship-to-ship transfer needs very careful assessment indeed.

Labour MSP Claudia Beamish
BBC
Labour MSP Claudia Beamish

Ms Beamish praises Cromarty Rising wich has the support of 27 community councils.

The Labour MSP highlights the petition to the UK transport minister and the petition to Holyrood.

She says a further application for ship-to-ship oil transfer in the Moray Firth would be a risk to far.

Background: Forth oil transfer plan ruled out

Plans for ship-to-ship oil transfers in the Firth of Forth were ruled out by the area's harbour authority in 2008.

Forth Ports announced it was not proceeding with an application which was submitted by SPT Marine Services.

The transfer plans had sparked fierce opposition from local councils, residents and environmental groups.

The Scottish government welcomed the decision on the proposals to pump about 7.8 million tonnes of crude oil a year between tankers in the firth.

Read more here.

Cromarty Firth Port Authority seems to have paid no attention to the petition

SNP MSP Angus MacDonald
BBC

SNP MSP Angus MacDonald says he previously campaigned to oppose ship-to-ship oil transfers at the Firth of Forth.

Mr MacDonald says ship-to-ship oil transfers have negative impacts to the environment and could have catastrophic consequences. 

The SNP MSP says the Scottish Parliament would be better placed to protect the environment in these areas if the powers were devolved. 

He says the Cromarty Firth Port Authority seems to have paid no attention to the petition. 

Mr MacDonald says this would bring no new jobs to the area only risk. 

Background: Protestors oppose Cromarty Firth ship-to-ship oil transfers

Last December we reported a protest against ship-to-ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth, which took place in Nairn.

Cromarty Firth Port Authority wants permission to transfer millions of tonnes of crude oil at sea.

The protestors gathered on Nairn beach
Rowena Camerson
The protestors gathered on Nairn beach

Campaigners around the Moray Firth said the risk of an oil spill would be catastrophic to the marine environment.

But the port authority has insisted procedures are in place to prevent the accidental discharge of oil and said the risk of a spill was minimal.

The Moray Firth is home to bottlenose dolphins, harbour porpoises, minke whales and other marine and bird life.

Tory MSP questions the need for ship-to-ship oil transfers in Moray Firth

Tory MSP Edward Mountain
bbc
Tory MSP Edward Mountain

Tory MSP Edward Mountain oil transfer in the Cromarty Firth for thirty years.

Mr Mountain says there is no current proposal for ship-to-ship oil transfer away in the Moray Firth and there will not be one before October 2017, if at all.

The Tory MSP questions the need for ship-to-ship oil transfers away from jetties.

He says in the last 10 years oil spills from ship-to-ship transfers are rare.

If the Cromarty Firth Port Authority submits a new proposal, Mr Mountain asks that they consult with the local communities like Cromarty Rising.

Fears for marine life in Moray Firth

Bottle nosed dolphin
bbc
The Moray Firth is home to bottlenose dolphins, harbour porpoises, minke whales and other marine and bird life.

The Comarty Firth Port Authority already has a licence to transfer oil between vessels tied to the quayside at the Nigg oil terminal.

However, the authority now wants a licence from the Westminster government to conduct ship-to-ship oil transfers further out in the Cromarty Firth.

The application has prompted objections from local people and politicians all around the Moray Firth.

If something went wrong it would be 'catastrophic'

SNP MSP Maree Todd
BBC

SNP MSP Maree Todd says this subject is of interest to her constituents in the Highlands and Islands.

Ms Todd says the potential environmental impact presents real concerns. 

The SNP MSP says the case against this application has been made.

She says the chances of something going wrong are slim but if something did go wrong in this particular area it would be "catastrophic". 

Ms Todd says only the UK government can resolve this matter because it is reserved. 

Background: Comarty Firth Port Authority

Cromarty Firth Port Authority
Cromarty Firth Port Authority

From the Comarty Firth Port Authority website:

The Invergordon Service base was constructed in the 1980's and is owned and operated by the Cromarty Firth Port Authority; major tenants include offshore fabrication, logistics support and vessel agencies. There are 350 metres of alongside quay plus a further 145 metres of wet dock quay. Facilities include 43,600m2 of storage and fabrication land, 10,000m2 of quay area and 6,300m2 of car parking.  

Background: There is also a petition at Holyrood

As well as the petition to UK Transport Minister Chris Grayling there is also a petition at Holyrood.

PE01637 calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish government to ensure that environmental legislation in Scotland is sufficient to prevent ship-to-ship transfers of crude oil in environmentally sensitive locations, such as the Inner Moray Firth, and to enhance the accountability of trust port boards to their stakeholders.  

From SPICE: 

In December 2015, the Cromarty Firth Port Authority (CFPA) submitted an application to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), to obtain a licence for ship-to-ship (STS) oil transfers at anchor in the inner Moray Firth for a maximum of 8.6 million tonnes per year. 

However, the MCA decided that the application needed more work, therefore the CFPA withdrew it. A new application is expected to be submitted in the coming weeks. 

Green MSP calls on minister to rule out EPS licence for ship-to-ship oil transfers

Mr Finnie
bbc
Mr Finnie

Mr Finnie says he welcomes the change of tone when the first minister said she was unconvinced of the safety of ship-to-ship oil transfer in the Moray Firth.

The Green MSP asks the minister to regain the vigour the Scottish government had when the Forth was under threat in 2007.

He calls on the government to confirm that an EPS licence won't be issued to allow ship-to-ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth.

Scottish government 'disingenuous' on matter says John Finnie

John Finnie
BBC

Mr Finnie says ministers claim the Scottish government was not invited to comment and was not aware of being approached by the UK government which is "disingenuous".

The Green MSP says the Scottish government could have brought the environmental concerns to the MCA.

He says the Scottish government claim it is a matter that is reserved to the UK government and "it is nothing to do with us" which, he says, is no way to treat this matter. 

Green MSP says ship-to-ship oil transfers 'completely unsuitable' in Cromarty and Moray Firths

Ship-to-ship transfer of oil
bbc
Green MSP says ship-to-ship oil transfers 'completely unsuitable' in Cromarty and Moray Firths

Mr Finnie uses his motion to highlight the lodging of Public Petition PE01637  regarding at-sea ship-to-ship oil transfers in areas such as the Cromarty and Moray firths.

The Green MSP says the Cromarty and Moray firths to be areas of environmental significance, which are completely unsuitable for operations such as at-sea ship-to-ship oil transfers.

He says even a minimal spillage would have catastrophic effects for marine life, including the iconic pod of bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth, and for coastal communities.

Mr Finnie congratulates Cromarty Rising on reaching over 100,000 signatures from people across the region and the world for its petition to the UK Secretary of State for Transport.

Background: Cromarty Rising

Cromarty Rising
Cromarty Rising

From the Cromarty Rising website: 

Transfers of crude oil are proposed in the Inner Moray Firth – in exactly the place where the only resident pod of bottlenose dolphins in Scotland lives and breeds!

There is an existing jetty at Nigg where oil transfers have taken place for over 30 years – why not do it there rather than in the open sea on top of the dolphins?

Green MSP John Finnie congratulates Cromarty Rising

Green MSP John Finnie
bbc
Green MSP John Finnie

Green MSP John Finnie congratulates Cromarty Rising who are in the gallery this evening.

Mr Finnie says they have generated over 100,000 signatures to their petition to the UK government.

He says ship-to-ship oil transfer takes place in the relative safety tied to quay at Nigg.

The Green MSP says there is no viable application at the moment.

Background: Request on ship-to-ship oil transfers 'standard protocol', says port

A port authority seeking permission for ship-to-ship transfers of oil has said withdrawing and resubmitting its application is "standard protocol".

Port of Cromarty Firth has applied for a licence to transfer oil at sea in the Moray Firth.

A campaign opposes the plan because of concerns that the operations would harm the environment.

It emerged in January that the port authority had been asked to withdraw the application it made in 2015.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), which considers applications for ship-to-ship transfers in consultation with other organisations, requested the withdrawal and resubmission.

Resubmitting the application meant fresh public consultation on the port authority's plans.

Tanker
Thinkstock

Bob Buskie, chief executive of the Port of Cromarty Firth, said: "Asking us to withdraw and resubmit our application is standard protocol in this scenario.

"It is nothing we weren't expecting when we committed to undertaking further public consultation. We will be following the standing application protocol, as directed by the MCA."

He said "refinements" have been made to the initial application.

Mr Buskie said: "This detailed package of work is now complete and we will submit our refined application on schedule.

"We are confident the refined application answers the questions raised and will reassure our stakeholders that we can continue to undertake these operations safely.

"Further details of public consultation dates and events will be published soon."

Background: Holyrood protest protest opposing Moray Firth ship-to-ship transfers

MSPs Gail Ross, left, and Kate Forbes with protestors dressed in animal costumes
bbc
MSPs Gail Ross, left, and Kate Forbes with protestors dressed in animal costumes

In January a fresh protest was held outside the Scottish Parliament to raise awareness to opposition to plans for ship-to-ship transfers of oil in the Moray Firth.

Cromarty Firth Port Authority wants permission to transfer millions of tonnes of crude oil at sea.

Campaigners around the Moray Firth said the risk of an oil spill would be catastrophic to the marine environment.

The port authority said it "fully appreciated" the environment it operated in was "extremely special".

The demonstration outside the parliament building in Edinburgh was supported by Green MSP John Finnie, SNP MSPs Kate Forbes and Gail Ross and Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin.

Read more here.

Here is the motion to the debate

Motion
bbc

'Ship-to-ship Oil Transfers in the Cromarty and Moray Firths’ debate

Protestors gathered outside the parliament building in Edinburgh
bbc
Protestors gathered outside the parliament building in Edinburgh

Green MSP John Finnie will now lead a debate entitled 'Ship-to-ship Oil Transfers in the Cromarty and Moray Firths’. 

A strong population in the Highlands and Islands benefits the whole of Scotland

Croft
BBC

Ms Ross says it would be a good start to get the definition and decide what we want crofting to be and move forward from there.

The Rural Economy Committee deputy convener says a strong population in the Highlands and Islands benefits the whole of Scotland.

She says she hopes the committee report has been helpful and she commends it to the chamber. 

The forthcoming crofting bill should be comprehensive says committee deputy convener

Rural Economy Committee convener Gail Ross
bbc
Rural Economy Committee convener Gail Ross

Rural Economy Committee deputy convener Gail Ross says this is a very complex and technical area.

Ms Ross says there are some issues around crofting that can be addressed without legislation.

She says legislation made in the 1800s is probably not relevant today.

Ms Ross says the committee came to the conclusion that the forthcoming bill should be comprehensive and try, where possible, to start again.

'It would be ungenerous to say that the government are not supporting crofters'

Farm
BBC

Mr Yousaf says it is worth reiterating that there is the croft house grant and other schemes and support available to crofters.

"It would be ungenerous to say that the government are not supporting crofters," he says. 

The islands minister says engagement with stakeholders will continue and he looks forward to engaging with crofters. 

Minister says work has already begun on what a new entrants scheme should look like

Islands Minister Humza Yousaf
bbc
Islands Minister Humza Yousaf

Islands Minister Humza Yousaf says this has been an "excellent debate".

Mr Yousaf says crofting could help reverse some of the depopulation seen in the islands.

The SNP MSP says there are a number of issues around crofting and he says the government will be as consensual going forward as possible.

He says some MSPs are asking for a clean slate approach, with others saying the existing legislation should be tweaked.

Mr Yousaf says work has already begun on what a new entrants scheme should look like.

Tory MSP calls for a comprehensive crofting bill starting with a clean sheet

Tory MSP Peter Chapman says: "Crofting is not just a vital part of our rural economy it is an important part of our rural heritage."

Mr Chapman says: "We cannot duck the question of serious reform any longer."

Tory MSP Peter Chapman
bbc
Tory MSP Peter Chapman

Mr Chapman calls for a comprehensive crofting bill starting with a clean sheet.

He welcomes the promise that a new bill will be delivered in the lifetime of this parliament.

The cost of registration and notification is highlighted by the Tory MSP.

'A lot of crofters say that they are involved in an expensive hobby'

Rhoda Grant
BBC

In closing for Scottish Labour, Rhoda Grant says the legislation must be simple and make sense to crofters. 

Ms Grant says there are still crofts that are un-worked and there is no way of reporting on that. 

"A lot of crofters say that they are involved in an expensive hobby," she says, adding that the economics must be looked at.

The Labour MSP says crofters must have business development support. 

She says consensus must be built around the legislation that is required. 

Ship-to-ship Oil Transfers in the Cromarty and Moray Firths debate begins after 5pm

SNP MSP says whole nation suffers without thriving population in the Highlands and Islands

SNP MSP John Mason
bbc
SNP MSP John Mason

SNP MSP John Mason says the whole nation suffers if there is not a strong and thriving population in the Highlands and Islands.

Mr Mason says the committee realised the type of legislation being recommended would be controversial.

The SNP MSP says it recommended there was a need to move away from the piecemeal legislation in the past and the proposed bill should be comprehensive.

Background: Former Crofting Commission convener not re-elected

Colin Kennedy was convener of the Crofting Commission
bbc
Colin Kennedy was convener of the Crofting Commission

Colin Kennedy, whose actions at the Crofting Commission were the source of a row, has been unsuccessful in being re-elected after losing by two votes.

Last year, the commission's board apologised for its handling of a dispute with crofters over the management of common grazing land.

Counting in the Crofting Commission elections in Stornoway on Lewis
bbc
Counting in the Crofting Commission elections in Stornoway on Lewis

Board members also asked Mr Kennedy to resign as convener. He refused to do so.The count for the commission elections was held in Stornoway on Lewis.

Mr Kennedy lost out to Billy Neilson in being elected as a commissioner for the constituency of South West Highlands.

Read more here.