SNP candidate for Orkney and Shetland Robert Leslie has condemned the refusal of the Ministry of Defence to pay for the clean-up of an oil spill that happened during the time it had taken control of Lyness as a naval base.
Instead of playing a positive role in plans to redevelop the base for oil and gas decommissioning work, the MoD is washing its hands of the environmental damage it left behind when it handed the base over to Orkney Islands Council in 1977.
Robert Leslie said:
“Orkney is rightly proud of the role that it played as Britain defended itself during two world wars.
“However, it seems that UK interest stops when our strategic significance is no longer important, and the MoD’s refusal to pay up is a huge blow to a project that could bring economic and social benefit to Hoy and the wider Orkney community. The £384,000 that the MoD was asked to contribute towards is not even a drop in the ocean compared to the £205 billion that the UK Government wants to spend on replacing Trident over the next 30 years, spending which the SNP is entirely opposed to.
“This would have been a fitting goodwill gesture from the UK Government for the years that it used Orkney as a military base. Instead the refusal to comply with the polluter pays principle will no doubt leave a sour taste locally.
“If elected as Orkney and Shetland’s new MP on 12th December, I will be pressing the MoD to reconsider their decision, which seems particularly parsimonious.”
Orkney Islands Council intends to redevelop Lyness to take advantage of increased activity in oil and gas decommissioning.
However, it was revealed last year that the council would first need to pay an estimated £384,000 to extract heavy oil trapped below the site from when it was used as a Royal Navy fuel depot.
The council made a formal request to the MoD to help foot the bill, as the contamination had taken place due to a pipe spillage in the 1960s, when the base was still under the ownership of the UK government.
The MoD has now written back to Orkney Islands Council saying evidence ‘does not support the MoD assuming liability’.
There are 6 candidates standing in the Orkney and Shetland Constituency to be held on Thursday 12th of December.
David Stephen Barnard, Independent
Alistair Carmichael, Scottish Liberal Democrats
Coilla Anne Drake, Scottish Labour Party
Jennifer Fairbairn, Scottish Conservative and Unionist
Robert Fraser Leslie. Scottish National Party (SNP)
Robert Watt Smith, The Brexit Party