Neither I nor the Minister responsible for this issue, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr Hayes), has had any contact with the Scottish Government so far about the devolution of ship-to-ship transfers. However, the Minister of State wrote to Scottish Ministers earlier this month, acknowledging that the permitting arrangements for granting oil transfer licences for ship-to-ship transfers needed improvement. Our intention is to review the process around the application and assessment of licences in consultation with the devolved Administrations later this year.
I thank the Minister for that positive response. SNP colleagues, the Scottish Government and local communities are unconvinced by the safety of ship-to-ship oil transfers, particularly in the Cromarty firth, which is a European special protection area for bottlenose dolphins. I am pleased that the Minister is prepared to take up the case with Scottish Ministers, and I wonder whether he would consider devolving powers, which I think is appropriate, so that such decisions could be taken in Scotland.
We will certainly be consulting, as I just said. I understand that the original application from the Cromarty Firth port authority was not suitable and that it is looking to make a further application. If one is submitted, there will be a full consultation exercise, and the Scottish Government will be formally consulted.