Council seeks ‘rapid resolution’ to tanker situation

Shetland Islands Council convener Malcolm Bell has raised concerns about oil-laden tankers with industry representatives, councillors have been told.

At Wednesday’s harbour board meeting the subject of anchoring tankers was the main subject of discussion, with councillors looking for action to be taken.

Mr Bell said that for forty years there had been no problem with tankers leaving Sullom Voe and lying off the coast, but added: “Clearly there has been a change in practice”.

He said it was a “concern for the council and a concern for the community”.

Harbour board chairwoman Andrea Manson said the practice was a “consequence of Covid”, with tankers waiting either for the price of oil to rise or for space to open at storage facilities.

She pledged the council were “not sitting on our hands”, and that an “enormous amount of work” was going on behind the scenes to resolve the situation.

Infrastructure director John Smith explained to councillors they were confident conversations with industry members were progressing well.

He said the objective as to see a “continued return to the practice that was in place for a very long period”.

Noss Nature Reserve’s honorary warden Jonathan Wills has raised the issue of anchoring tankers repeatedly, with the laden tanker Hovden Spirit continuing to lie off the south-east cost of the isles.

Figures in the local seafood industry also raised serious concerns about the practice earlier this week.


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