Climate Emergency – What Climate Emergency? The Peel Ports / Valaris Drill Ships Scandal

Climate Emergency – What Climate Emergency?
The Peel Ports / Valaris Drill Ships Scandal

A picture showing two drill ships at Hunterston jetty

In June 2019 North Ayrshire Council declared a Climate Emergency. Laudable, I am sure, but what are the Council actually doing to implement remedial actions? At the Full Council Meeting of Wednesday 31 March 2021 I watched the Leader of the Council give a comprehensive listing of the actions which have been taken, and are planned, by the Council in its drive to combat Climate Change. Many high-capital spend and positive decisions such as solar energy schemes, electricity from waste scheme at Irvine, housing insulation improvements, and public consultation actions are some things which I particularly noted and all of which are appreciated.
These actions signal to me a genuine attempt by the Council to meet the stated aims outlined in its declaration of a Climate Emergency.
However there is a glaring anomaly in North Ayrshire which makes the Local Council, and also, by implication, the Scottish Government look absurd where Climate issues are concerned.
Two gigantic, currently redundant, Oil Drilling Ships which belong to Valaris plc are berthed at Peel Ports Jetty at Hunterston. Valaris is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the USA. Valaris have stated that the Drill ships may not be required for up to two years.
The Drill Ships came to Hunterston for long term storage and were inadequately moored at the Peel Ports Jetty. The mooring and manning arrangements were challenged by Fairlie Community Council. The Community Council also asked Peel Ports to give an assurance that shore power would be made available to prevent noise and fumes being produced for the on-board electrical requirements and also to reduce Climate Impact. Peel Ports responded that arrangements were being made to provide shore power. None has been provided to date, to my knowledge.
Just under two weeks after Fairlie Community Council had raised its concerns in writing, both ships broke free from the jetty and were in imminent danger of being grounded on the Cumbrae shore and causing a major environmental disaster in the Clyde Estuary.
During the week following the initial breakaway from the jetty, six large tugs were required to run at close to full power to keep DS8 on the berth. In addition two lifeboats and a pilot boat were on permanent standby at DS4, all burning large quantities of diesel fuel.
DS4 and DS8 are now again berthed at the jetty. The long-term arrangements appear to be that these ships will run their diesel generators to provide electrical power.
Much more importantly, DS4 and DS8 are both running a number of their main engines to provide power to the appropriate thrusters on the ships in order to prevent them from being blown off the jetty once more!
This is a completely unacceptable long term solution in terms of the effects on residents from constant noise, light pollution, exposure to oxides of nitrogen fumes, sulphur dioxide fumes and particulates. These ships are burning marine diesel fuel. The statutory limits applied to such a marine activity fall well short of those imposed on land based vehicles such as lorries, buses and cars. This is because the limits are based on the expectation that the ships are operating out at sea and well away from exposed populations.
For a Country and a Local Council who have declared Climate Emergencies the situation is frankly, farcical.
The First Minister stated in the recent election debate that 97.4% of Scotland’s electricity demand had been met by renewables in 2020. Sounds great, but look what is going on with these Valaris Oil Drilling Ships in Ayrshire!
Each ship has six diesel engines. Each engine has a rated output of 8,000kw. Marine diesel engines have a thermodynamic efficiency of 40 to 50% so if all engines were being deployed the input energy required to power both ships would be 192,000kw. In the more likely situation of only the three outboard thrusters on each ship being deployed to keep the vessel in position at the jetty, this still equates to 96,000kw at full power. Taking a conservative estimate of the engines being driven at half rated power we are still looking at 48,000kw of energy being required to be delivered from the burning of the diesel fuel to keep these vessels safely on the jetty. This is taking place 24 hours a day, seven days a week any time that there is any significant wind, i.e. nearly all the time. Even in flat calm conditions the on-board diesel generation sets are being used to provide electrical power.
An average house has a central heating system of around 20kw. Even if we assume the heating in the house is left on 24 hours a day we find the Valaris Oil Drilling Ships efforts to stay on the jetty equate to the heating energy required for 2,400 homes!
The emissions of course are much worse from the ships due to the fact that they are burning diesel fuel and not the much cleaner, natural gas!
How can this situation be tolerated by North Ayrshire Council in terms of their declared Climate Emergency?
How can North Ayrshire Council possibly defend this situation? To effectively allow a medium sized power station, powered by diesel fuel, to be constructed at the Hunterston site which they are promoting along with Peel Ports as a potential ‘Green Energy Parc’!
This situation should really form the basis of a presentation at the forthcoming COP26 meeting in Glasgow.
It could illustrate perfectly the divide that exists between what organisations say they will do in hyped terms of Climate Change and what they do in reality.
The running of diesel generators and main engines on the vessels is also causing an unnecessary noise nuisance for many local residents. Constant noise 24 hours per day has been taking place since the vessels arrived on 27 December 2020. Local Council personnel have measured the total noise level and stated that it is below the allowable statutory value. My personal view is that for some proportion of the population, this is not adequate to provide protection against disturbance. Some people are being affected and have reported a constant low frequency noise. I would suggest that the low frequency sound is being generated by a ‘Beat Frequency’ effect caused by the interaction between the exhaust sound from two or more main engine exhaust stacks. Two similar exhaust frequencies, but which are only slightly different in frequency, will be amplified and will generate sound at a frequency which is equal to the difference in frequency of the two sources. This could readily explain the reported low frequency sound complaints. The solution is obviously to provide shore power and fix the problem at source.
Regarding underwater noise it is also totally unacceptable that these ships should be allowed to run their thrusters day and night. The adjacent waters are home to many cetaceans, all of which rely on sound for navigation and detection of food sources.
If these vessels cannot be safely berthed at Hunterston Jetty without running their main engines, then it is clear to me that there is no option other than to request Peel Ports to move these vessels to a proper secure location where there is no need for constant main engine power to deliver safe berthing.
North Ayrshire Council must assert their authority over the location and activities of these vessels.
Locals have been calling for a proper investigation of the February incident and have met with an extremely poor response from all those who should be taking this event seriously.
A state of confusion over the status of the ships and who should be responsible for conducting a proper independent incident enquiry exists.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has stated that they do not intend to investigate the major incident of 2nd February when the vessels were blown off the jetty. They state that at the time the Valaris DS4 and DS8 were not ‘ships’, due to their de-manned state and Flag State paperwork. In that case these ‘things’ are ‘Deposited Structures’ and fall under the jurisdiction of land based authorities such as the Health and Safety Executive and the Local Council.
As a result of the misleading CGI video produced by the Decontamination Operator, CessCon Decom, who was at the time located on the Peel Ports site, and whose video showed Oil Rigs moored at the Hunterston Jetty, North Ayrshire Council informed local residents that this could not take place since no planning permission existed for such an activity.
Given that the marine Accident Investigation Branch have confirmed that the Valaris assets are not ‘ships’ it would appear to me that Peel Ports do not have planning permission to store these assets at the Hunterston Jetty, since they must be similar in definition to the Oil Rigs discussed above.
In terms of the lease for the Hunterston Jetty pertaining to the sea-bed below MLWS and which was granted to ClydePort by the Crown Commissioners
Clause 4.4 states:
‘not to use the subjects of let other than as or for a terminal for the handling of iron ore and coal and other commodities comparable with such use and for all operations normally associated with the proper and usual enjoyment of such use, including without prejudice to the foregoing generality for anything reasonably necessary to deal with an accident, malfunction or emergency.’
This, I believe, was written to align with the Secretary of State Planning Approval of the Hunterston Terminal which envisioned a Bulk Handling Facility and which had been the subject of a full Public Enquiry and Parliamentary Debate at Westminster. One might assume that the current Crown Commissioners Scotland would take cognisance of this in any request to amend the conditions of lease.
In my opinion it would appear that Peel Ports do not have planning permission for the current activity, and Peel Ports are not in compliance with the terms of the lease for the sea-bed on which the Hunterston Jetty is constructed.
If this is indeed the correct interpretation then it would appear to me that the Local Council would be in a strong position to instruct Peel Ports to resolve this issue immediately and stop this ridiculous state of affairs from continuing, with damage to the environment, damage to the health of local residents, damage to the well-being of sea creatures, and crucially, damage to the Local Council’s reputation in terms of its stance on its declared Climate Emergency.
Dr Pearson

FCC Minutes 01/03/2021

Fairlie Community Council – Monday 01/03/2021, h. 07:30pm, Zoom meeting

Attending: FCC: Rita Holmes (Chair); Marco Piva (minutes taker); Alan Holden; David Nairn; David Telford; Ian Hunter NAC: Cllr. Tom Marshall, Cllr. Alan Hill, Cllr. Ian Murdoch Police: PC Helen Coyle Press: Calum Corral (Largs & Millport News) 6 MoP Apologies: Karla Tully (FCC); Alex Gallagher (NA Councillor) Approval of February minutes: proposed by DT, seconded by AHo

Police report: 01/02/2021 – 28/02/2021: 37 reports of which 4 crimes: 3 vandalism, 1 road traffic (last year, 26 reports of which 5 crimes) The Police have been circulating in an unmarked vehicle monitoring instances of vandalism; none was spotted, they will continue doing so. MoP reported, via the 101 system, vandalism at the tennis court about 10 days ago (to be further discussed later, point 4). The Police are looking into it Answering to a question that was asked during the Feb FCC meeting: the road accident that happened at the foot of School Brae around Christmas was not mentioned in the monthly report because no crimes were committed in that instance DT What is the Police’s opinion regarding the future pedestrian crossing? Does it seem to be too close to the street corner? PC HC Not as far as we can say IM raised the same issue last month and was reassured; an independent safety audit is due to take place before it is installed

NA Cllrs’ update The Cllrs will comment on the single agenda items as they are discussed

6. RES 3 Kelburn update (this point of the agenda is brought ahead to facilitate David Boyle of Kelburn Castle, who needs to leave the meeting earlier due to prior commitments) DB Phase 2 of the works is nearly completed; it involves restoration of the roof of the 1700 wing (phase 1 was mostly focussed on the tower). The final costs of Ph. 2 haven’t been confirmed yet. Trustees are not meeting in person due to the current emergency situation, an online meeting will be held soon. All payments going through the trust (in or out) are seen and must be approved by each of the trustees. DT Are the trustees confident that the trust is getting all the money due? DB All the money from the sale of the land went straight to the trust DT Are all the payments due because of RES 3 [see attachment 1] being regularly paid? The profits have increased [see attachment 1], have the payments to the trust equally increased? DB The initial fixed fee has been paid back in 2004; presently trying to arrange a meeting with Dawn. Possibly the uplift will be received once the next phase of houses has been completed? DT Looking at the data [see attachment 1], all adjustments seem to have been made in favour of Dawn and not in favour of community benefit. There may be an explanation, of course, but we’d like to receive one. What quantity surveyors are involved? DB Alan Angus, hired by Kelburn, who is focussing on checking whether all expenses are appropriate; one hired by Dawn/RDK Construction

1. Hunterston SSG Monthly updates are being given via video calls, regularly, both for HuntA and HuntB, on request. HuntA: progress is slow HuntB: R3 and R4 will be switched off no later than the end of March for checking. If EDF’s prediction re. the core cracking is proven wrong, they will not be applying for a 6-month extension. If they are instead restarted, they will be offline and ready for defueling (and, later, decommissioning) not after the 7th of January 2022. The next SSG will take place on Zoom on Thursday the 4th of March. MoPs can apply to attend by emailing DT As the DEPZ has been shrunk (as discussed during the Feb FCC meeting), there needs to be an offsite plan covering the surrounding areas, as per agreement emanated in 2019 via an Act of Parliament. DT contacted NAC for information on this, was redirected to South Ayrshire Council, who have been preparing such plan. No answer yet. Wondering why the preparation of such document was subcontracted to another Council. The aforementioned Act of Parliament makes it clear that such plans should be available to the public TM NA Cllrs will try to find and share the document

2. A78 IM Roadworks have been completed, including resurfacing and an improvement to drainage (which will be tested only in occasion of the next heavy rain). Last instance of works on A78 is on Gallowgate Str in Largs, then there should be no major works for a while. No updates re. pedestrian crossing.

3. Rigghill industrial wind development No date for the application to go before the Planning Comm TM It’s likely that it will be in March. 160 objections have been filed RH The contributions from the developers have been uploaded on the public website much faster than the contributions by anybody else have TM There have been delays due to the emergency situation, but this discrepancy should not have occurred. Planners are waiting for a written response from SEPA; if it’s received, the proposal will very likely go to Committee by the end of March; if not, there may be a delay

4. Tennis courts MoP (Mairi Wyatt), who lives near tennis courts, reported that the lower tennis court had been vandalised. Incident reported to Police (101). It’s the first occurrence of vandalism to the court. Now the Tennis Club are discussing padlocking the court and the football pitch. AHi Fairlie Community Sports Club has the lease of the courts and of the former putting green. Padlock would remind people that it is not a facility that’s open to the public, that users should be contributing towards its maintenance by joining the Club. The tennis court will likely be padlocked. The Club is discussing an informative leaflet to be distributed in Fairlie.

5. Seawall and slipway at the foot of the Causeway A MoP reported to FCC that the slipway seems to be undermined by tidal action. Mr. Russell McCutcheon of NAC was contacted, Mr. Crowley of NAC visited the site and assessed it as not currently in need of attention. NAC will also need to ascertain ownership of seawall and slipway. NAC have repaired it in the past, but that part of the beach belongs to Largs Yacht Haven

7. PeelPorts update/NAC Memorandum of Understanding/Drillship incident/Noise complaints A full report re. the noise caused by the drillships has been filed; no replies yet IM Vibrations are also noticeable, caused by the engines. Re. the mooring incident, IM asked what NAC are doing; reply was that it occurred offshore, so the investigation is lead by the Coast Guard and Marine Accident Investigation, that will keep NAC up to date. NAC are not actors in the investigation. IM objected that the incident started at the jetty, therefore not at sea. Will NAC support FCC’s request for an independent investigation? DT Marshall Islands (flag state of the drillships) have confirmed that they have started an investigation. UK will not, as the vessels are designed as not operational. PeelPorts have stated that they have started an investigation of their own. IM To be kept in mind that Hunterston was never designated as an open port, created as support for Ravenscraig and later Longannet. DN None of the environmental questions have ever been answered by NAC since the start of the Hunterston debate. Re. didemnum vexillum, working in liaison w the Marine Scotland invasive species team; samples will be collected. Also looking for media channels to raise public awareness of the issue

8. Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park consultative forum The Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park Consultative Forum has been closed down; NAC had already withdrawn. Renfrewshire and Inverclyde have also recently withdrawn. Each Council will look after its own assets in the Park, and Friends of the CMRP will continue to meet regularly. NA, Renfr and Invercl Cllrs have promised they will attend. Application to build new dams on Greeto; Largs CC are working on this.

9. Water quality and main sewage pipe DN Water is not balneable for 3 days after heavy rains, which overcome and overflow the sewer system. Maybe main sewer pipe (under beach) is leaking? Will ask Scottish Water to have this checked. Concern as more people are wild swimming; hopefully, they are aware of pollution in case of heavy rainfall

10. Coastal path Appears to be well built. Stretch N of Ferry Row not complete but close to completion. Builders are liaising with owners of properties overlooking the path. Steps to the beach will be built following down from the steps N of Ferry Row and in other spots to be defined.

Any Other Business + Karla Tully is (re)joining FCC as a full member. Proposed by RH, seconded by DN + Some trees, including 8 old growth beech trees were felled by NAC, notification given only after. AHo 8 beech trees, 2 scots pines along Southannan Estate. They were felled in order to access railway for emergency maintenance due to the landslide IM Trees were cut by ScotRail. NAC were asked after the fact + Trees have also been cut around the crags (which will be covered by netting) AHi NAC had opposed building in front of crags, overruled by reporter+ The tree at Hunterston roundabout, the one that used to be covered in baubles, has also disappeared. Anyone knows why? + In order to visit Hunterston lagoon (bird sanctuary) it’s necessary to be a RSPB member and to apply in advance + The footbridge over the burn past Fairlie Castle, on Fairlie Glen, is damaged due to decay of one of the railway sleepers with which it has been built, and others show signs of decay. It was originally built by Southannan, and it’s on the border between Kelburn Estate and Southannan Estate. It is used regularly. Who is in charge of its maintenance? RH Either Rosie, who works for Montgomery Est, or DB will have the right contact. MoP (Sam Courtney) who raised the question will contact DB

The next FCC meeting is on Monday 5 th of April 2021 (Easter Monday) at 07:30 pm by Zoom (link for MoPs will be provided on request; MoPs present at this meeting and those who have already expressed their interest will receive it)

Police Report 01/03/21 – 05/04/21

North Ayrshire Sub Division North Coast and Cumbrae Locality


CC Fairlie March 2021.doc


Fairlie Community Report Community Council Email – Dates from; 01/03/21 – 05/04/21 UPDATE FROM LOCALITY POLICING TEAM – REPORT PRESENTED BY: PC H Coyle Current Meeting Figures: Number of incidents in total – 32 Number of Crimes identified – 3 Comparative Figures from previous year: Number of incidents in total – 25 Number of Crimes identified – 2 During the period of time from 1st March 2021 to 5th April 2021 for Fairlie there were 32 incidents reported to the police which resulted in 3 crimes being identified and crime reports being raised and investigated. Please find below a brief synopsis of all these incidents. Comparative year to date figures are also included. Local Community figures were forwarded to Rita Holmes on 05/04/21 by PC Dominic Murphy Receipt of this report was/was not acknowledged. Agreed date of next meeting – **PLEASE INCLUDE THE POLICE IN THE MEETING MINUTES, THANKS** NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKEDOFFICIAL YOUR LOCALITY POLICING TEAM LOCALITY POLICING OFFICERS (officers work mobile numbers are only contactable during on duty hours) PS Donald Fisher Work Mobile – 07815008073 PC Dominic Murphy -07815006603 PC Simon Winsor – 07815008663 PC Thomas Arthur – 07815006808 PC Ross Pollard – Campus PC Euan Graham (Town Centre) – 07815006679 PC Len McDonald (Town Centre) PC Joy Hamilton (Millport) – 07815008818 PC Deborah Beattie (Millport) – 07815008822 LOCALITY POLICING GROUP EMAIL INBOX (THIS IS NOT MONITORED DAILY) Please email the group inbox with any local community concerns AyrshireLPSTNorthCoastandCum Please ensure all matters are reported to Police via 101 or 999 in an emergency and that all reporting is done so through the appropriate channels to ensure the appropriate and timely response is received. **Please be aware all officers work a variety of shifts so may not always be available at the time of your contact. We will respond upon our return to duty. Officers will only have access to their work emails and work mobiles during whilst they are on duty** Local Figures Assault & Violent Crime Serious Assaults Nil Robberies Nil Assaults NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKEDOFFICIAL Nil Drug Use & Drug Dealing Synopsis – 1 adult male was reported to the Procurator Fiscal for possession of drug offence following high visibility patrols by locality policing officers. Police will continue to actively target drug use and drug dealing and would encourage any members of the public to report concerns either via 101 or Crimestoppers online or via phone on 0800555111 Anti-Social Behaviour Vandalism * Nil Breach of the Peace Nil Theft and Housebreaking Theft (Including car crime and theft OLP) Nil Housebreaking Nil Shoplifting Other Crimes of Note: (Please include anything of note relevant to Community Council) NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKEDOFFICIAL Breach of Bail Nil Communications Offences Nil Fraud 1 report of a fraud perpetrated via telephone was reported to police and enquiries into this are ongoing. Road Traffic 1 adult male was reported to the Procurator Fiscal following a road traffic collision near to Hunterston Roundabout. ACTION PLANS No specific actions plans have been carried out this month however police continue to carry out high visibility patrols in the area and the Scottish safety camera partnership vehicle has visited the village on a number of occasions. OTHER MATTERS OF NOTE MATTERS ARISING FROM LAST MEETING Point 1 (Raised by Name of person) Result: (please state whether resolved or ongoing) Point 2 (Raised by) Result: Point 3 (Raised by ) Result: Point 4 (Raised by) Result: NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKEDOFFICIAL

FCC Minutes 01/02/2021

Fairlie Community Council – Monday 01/02/2021, h. 07:30pm, Zoom meeting

FCC: Rita Holmes (Chair); Marco Piva (minutes taker); Alan Holden; David Nairn; David Telford; Karla Tully
NAC: Cllr. Tom Marshall, Cllr. Alan Hill, Cllr. Ian Murdoch
Press: Calum Corral
3 MoP
Approval of January minutes:

proposed by AHo, seconded by DT
Police report: (read by KT as forwarded by PC Dominic Murphy on 31/01) 12/01/2021 – 31/01/2021: 15 incidents (compared to 14 in the same period last year) of which 1 crime (compared to 5 last year): 1 individual was reported to the Procurator Fiscal for an alleged historic offence of breach of the peace.
No speeders were detected despite several checks; attention will continue being given
PC Murphy was asked to check people running the red lights, he said he’d ask a colleague to; no information given on this
DT: the police report (this one or last month’s) the doesn’t mention anything on the car accident at the end of School Brae that happened around Christmas, despite a strong Police presence on the scene; wondering why.
1. A78 update
The consultation period has finished; the new crossing will definitely happen. Date expected is March 21st; the location (roughly at the bottom of the so-called “Ho Chi Minh steps”) has been confirmed pending a safety audit that will be held by an impartial auditor.
There has been some discussion on the topic on the Fairlie Facebook page; the main concern that emerged was the one that was discussed at Jan FCC: the new crossing appears to be too close to the bend, especially if the traffic is speeding. Safety audit will take this doubt into account
IM had a meeting w AMEY; he raised the same concern. He was told that, at the moment, the bus stop will not be moved, but it will be monitored and the situation will be reviewed (no time frame indicated). The branches overhanging the pavement will also be monitored so that they do not impact the visibility of the signage. All safety concerns have been addressed in detail. The independent safety audit will also focus on the signage.
2. Hunterston jetty and Peel Ports (noise and pollution concerns)
A letter has been sent to Mr. McSporran at Peel on 25/01 (many from Peel have been CCd) about the unnecessary noise caused by the drill ships and a concern from FCC re the inadequacy of berthing; no replies have been received; a second letter will be sent asking for answers
DN has circulated to FCC members a letter he has sent to Marine Scotland and SNH concerning the uncontrolled proliferation, strongly aided by the presence of the drill ships, of didemnum vexillum (commonly known as “carpet sea squirt” or “marine vomit”), a highly invasive, non-native species that was already present, albeit in much lower numbers, in the Clyde. It is a serious threat to the marine environment and, as a consequence, to the marine industry. Its presence will require a massive (and very expensive) eradication program, that is possible will take place within a couple of years (it had already been mentioned around 2012). PeelPorts biosecurity guidelines, if followed, would have prevented the berthing of the drill ships. An EIA performed when suggested would have also likely prevented it. Waiting for a reply from either Marine Scotland or SNH (or, hopefully, both). DN specifies that every detail he mentioned in his letter has been taken from scientifically proven papers and facts.
DT: the application from Peel to alter Condition 4 of the planning permission to dismantle oil rigs needs to be looked at: it appears to be an attempt to give credibility to a discredited planning permission. Peel should be asked to re-submit their planning application in full, including the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) required by law.
DN one of the last habitats for the Highland Daisy in the whole of the UK has been bulldozed by Peel
DT reads from last Saturday’s Herald (Commercial Review), saying that Cesscon Decon have stated that they have secured the Hunterston area for decommissioning services, all this while we have been clearly told that their involvement will not be happening
IM: Peel have been explicitly asked if Cesscon were still involved in their plan, and Peel have denied their involvement. This needs to be looked into.
3. Hunterston nuclear sites (DEPZ letter, next SSG)
MoP, resident at the borders of the DEPZ (Detailed Emergency Planning Zone). In 2020 she received a letter mentioning the possibility of the DEPZ being reduced from 2.4 to 2 km; in Jan 2021 she got confirmation that the DEPZ has indeed been reduced to 2 km following topographical features (so, it’s not a perfect circle). Her house, as well as the houses of some neighbours, have now dropped out of the DEPZ, so she will not receive any iodine tablets nor any information. The letter she received states that the number of residents in the DEPZ is unvaried, which doesn’t make sense to her. The letter was sent from Mr. Andrew Fraser, Head of Service at NAC, with an indication to contact Ms. Jane McGeorge at NAC for any information.
IM: this has been discussed at the Dec NAC meeting, which can be watched. The recommendation was to maintain the zone to 2.4 km as it was. IM had proposed an amendment to increase the zone to 20 km as it is in most of continental Europe, including France where EDF headquarters are; his amendment was not seconded.
RH suggests the MoP to contact Ms McGeorge and to attend the next Hunterston SSG, due to be held on Thursday the 4th of March via Zoom.
TM: a map showing the new and the old DEPZ is on the agenda of the Dec NAC meeting at pg 238; the proposal was presented by the officers; Mr. Andrew Fraser’s report can be read on the same agenda, item 8, pg 216.
DT had filed an objection suggesting to increase the area to include at least the nearest Primary Schools; points out that NAC’s legal opinion has been proven incorrect in the past
IM: the topic will be discussed again at the Feb NAC meeting
There are discussions on whether defueling and decommissioning are to be considered “operational” or not, as Peel are not allowed to dredge while the power station is operational (AHo explains that the reason for this is that debris caused by dredging may and indeed has in the past caused issues to the power station’s water intake)
TM suggests that the likely reasons behind this is the fact that Peel are talking with several potential investors (none of them has been made public yet) so they are likely to be trying to set up the area in order to make it more inviting; new investors will create new jobs
IM reminds that creating new jobs is of course of paramount importance, but it shouldn’t happen to the detriment of the local nature, marine habitat and human life
4. Coastal path
The newly built stretch extending to the North end of Ferry Row appears to be solid and well built; there are no updates concerning the next steps.
5. Dawn Homes
Nothing worth mentioning
6. Rigghill wind turbines development
The NAC Planning Committee will meet to discuss the topic on Feb 26th.
IM has asked to speak at the meeting as a representative of his constituents, but Cllrs who are not committee members are not permitted to do so; he has asked to address this point at the next NAC meeting
RH has applied to speak, and has been allotted the usual 10 minutes; the same goes for a representative of Skelmorlie CC. Prof. Alves Pereira will also speak.
DN expresses concerns for the well being of the crews of the drill ships, who are not permitted to disembark due to COVID restrictions
The Kirk has not contacted the crews, at least not in an official manner
MOP pointing out that there are branches overhanging numerous pavements, all year round
IM: the AMEY maintenance crews have confirmed that they will be monitoring this from now on
IM: cycle tracks, which are already up to scratch between Largs and WK, will probably be improved between Largs and Skelmorlie and around Cumbrae (or at least from the ferry to Millport)
DN asking for updates on a rumoured application for a fish farm
TM: only one has been filed, on the North coast of Arran
The next FCC meeting is on Monday 1st of March 2021 at 07:30 pm by Zoom (link for MoPs will be provided on request; MoPs present at this meeting and those who have already expressed their interest will receive it)

FCC Minutes 11/01/2021

Fairlie Community Council – Monday 11/01/2021, h. 07:30pm, Zoom meeting

FCC: Rita Holmes (Chair); Marco Piva (minutes taker); Alan Holden; David Nairn; David Telford; Ian Hunter
NAC: Cllr. Tom Marshall, Cllr. Alan Hill, Cllr. Ian Murdoch
Press: Calum Corral
Police: PC Simon Winsor
7 MoP (including Karla Tully, in charge of A78 issues)

Approval of December minutes: proposed by AHo, seconded by RH

Police report: 08/12/2020 to 11/01/2021: 35 calls of which 2 crimes (last year, 23 calls of which 2 crimes). One persistent caller due to neighbourhood complaints (including Covid19-related issues) increased the number.
The two crimes: 1 instance of vandalism (on Christmas and Boxing Day, paint was thrown on 5 cars parked on the main Road); 1 offence which took place in England but was reported by a local resident; PC Dominic Murphy is dealing with it.
FCC wants to express appreciation to the local Police force for their support in the present situation.

NA Councillors’ update: the Councillors will intervene as the various points are discussed

1: A78 (proposed pedestrian crossing)
Karla Tully has been leading this project since its inception; she gives the following presentation:
Survey has been done in late 2018/early 2019; KT personally met the Transerv Regional Manager in January 2019 and walked with him the length of the Main Street evaluating pros and cons of several possible locations for the new pedestrian crossing. The only site meeting all the possible criteria is at the foot of the so-called “Ho Chi Minh Trail”. Test readings have been done today (11/01), a consultation will be held in the next days. An external road safety consultant will be involved. The school’s PTA has been consulted. The signage in the village will be altered. The lollipop person shouldn’t be impacted (although they depend on NAC).
DN: the whole village should be a 20mph zone at school times
KT: we have been told that this won’t be possible as the A78 is a trunk road.
MoP: the new traffic light would be just past the bus stop; wouldn’t this be an issue with cars overtaking the bus?
MP: could the bus stop be moved 50 yds south?
KT: all this has been mentioned and will be considered

  1. Synchronous compensator
    AHo: a synchronous compensator is about the size of a delivery van, and it’d be housed in a building the size of a normal house designed to keep the noise in, with fan radiators outside; next to it there’d be a second building, roughly the same size, to house everything that’s needed for its operation. It is necessary to maintain the stability of the grid system, once Hunterston stops generating energy. The noise levels should be well under control. The nearest property is the cottage just before the Hunterston roundabout, 400 mt from the site; the owners and residents are aware of the application. Questions were asked as to why no actual real noise data had been provided with the Application for the Synchronous Compensator, as it was available from existing synchronous compensators, and it would be a preferable practice, rather than solely relying on theoretical noise data.
    DT: despite reassurances that the noise levels should be low, let’s file a request for a noise monitoring.
    AHi: wondering why this project is not being led by the national authority, as it is of national relevance and importance
  2. Peel Ports: application re variation of planning condition
    The point Peel are making is that defueling is a part of decommissioning; clarifications have been asked for.
    There will be the need for an EIA for the dredging, which can’t be done without compromising the station’s water intake; once the station is not operational, they will still need water but not as much as they do while operational
  3. Hunterston SSG update
    The anti-Covid19 measures on site are very strict.
    Work at HunterstonA is slow.
    Workers who have been on temporary contracts for over 9 years at HuntA are now permanent
    HuntB: Reactor 3 should be coming off line at the end of February; 6 more months of energy generation are possible after core inspections if core predictions are correct. Reactor 4 should follow the same cycle 2 weeks later, in March. Electricity will be produced, if possible, until late January 2022 and not later, no further extensions are possible; defueling will take 3 to 5 years, decommissioning will follow. It is unknown whether it will be NDA or EDF taking care of it.
    Next SSG on March 4th.
  4. Hunterston Parc/jetty
    Drill ships will remain stationed there for some time as they have no jobs to go to at the present time (the company has gone into receivership); the onboard ship generators will need to stay on 24/7 (as they are now) so the ships can remain on the ready. Allegedly, they are paying 8k£ per day in order to remain berthed at Hunterston (which is considered a fair/low price).
    Environmental Health had attended and measured noise from the drillships, as several complaints had been received. It was windy the day EH monitored and the noise specialist will return one late evening to measure noise inside properties.
    MoP: it is hardly “green” to be using polluting diesel generators to supply the drillships in what is supposed to be Hunterston Parc: Hub for Green Energy.
    FCC to write to Peel Ports again to ask about when mains electricity is to be available on the Jetty so we do not have to put up with unnecessary 24/7 noise.
    MoP complaining about the light pollution at night. Concerns were voiced over the vessels being at the jetty indefinitely as they did nothing for the scenic value of the area.
  5. Dawn Homes
    No news, the building of the flats is ongoing
  6. Coastal Path
    The works to N end of Ferry Row have started.
    MoP (Ferry Row resident): The Largs & Millport News seemed to be suggesting that the path may be diverted along the existing Ferry Row path; this has never been part of the plan nor it has ever been mentioned. Residents have been questioning this.
    Calum Corral (press): the info came from the Community Trust, it has been mentioned in the Church Newsletter
    IM will find further information

Calum C had an accident on his bike, a few weeks ago, in front of the church when a wheel got stuck after a fire hydrant cover fell in a fire hydrant hole, which resulted invisible as it was covered in water. Amey filled it within 24h, but it is something that people should be careful about

The next FCC meeting is on Monday 1st of February 2021  at 07:30 pm by Zoom (link for MoPs will be provided on request; MoPs present at this meeting and those who have already expressed their interest will receive it)

The Need for a Full In Depth Independent Investigation of Two Deep-Water Drill Ships out of control at Peel Ports Hunterston Jetty on Tuesday 2nd February 2021


This local Fairlie Community Council has requested a full and independent investigation inquiry into the incident involving the Valaris owned drill ships DS4 and DS8 which occurred on the evening of Tuesday 2nd February 2021. 

This document seeks to provide further detailed information and rationale in support of this request. 

This information is provided from the standpoint of concerned local residents who witnessed the event and who have researched, as far as external individuals can, the background and key points which they believe should be included in a formal independent investigation. 

The request for a full independent investigation is to ensure, as far as possible, that all the failures leading up to the incident have been identified, and to make recommendations which ensure that similar incidents will be prevented and to provide lateral learning to others to avoid repetition of the failures which led to this incident. 

The call for an independent investigation is entirely valid because this incident had very high potential, both in terms of environmental damage and also for the potential risk to the safety and lives of the ships’ crew members, the rescue service personnel, support boat crews, and also the safety of all those subsequently involved in the recovery operations. 

The only difference between the incident as it happened, and an incident in which both of these massive drill ships had been driven ashore on the rocky coast of the Great Cumbrae island, was LUCK. 

The incident investigation should be carried out with the detail and vigour which would take place if the latter situation had prevailed. The only difference between what happened on the night, and the grounding of both of these ships, is the outcome. 

It is clear that many management controls failed in this incident, resulting in one ship breaking entirely free from the jetty, and the other being on the point of doing so. 

Only the fact that the DS4 had its anchor already deployed, which in our view was part of a flawed mooring arrangement, saved the day and prevented both ships being driven ashore. The anchor appeared to have been utilised in the mooring operation as a substitute for a properly oriented bow line, which resulted from the berthing of two ships whose combined overall length exceeded that of the jetty head. 

Although the anchor was fortuitously already deployed, it was not immediately effective in preventing the downwind drift of the vessel. From AIS data we believe the anchor dragged from its original laid position, North of Fairlie Patch Buoy, approximately 0.5 mile to a position due West of the jetty head. Only at this point did it, again fortuitously, bite into the seabed and finally halt the ship’s drift towards the Great Cumbrae. At this point the anchor was already heading down the

seabed slope from its original laid depth of approximately 20m towards the mid channel depth of 45m. 

The Mayday call transmitted by DS4 triggered the emergency response. 

No tugs were on site at Hunterston, despite the fact that the strong, 40 knots plus, Easterly wind had been blowing for some considerable time. 

We also believe there was no Peel Ports management on site at Hunterston. 

Tugs had to be sent from Greenock, some 18 nautical miles away. Average tug speeds are around 11 to 12 knots and so a steaming time of an hour and a half is required to get to Hunterston. In addition there is the time required to make ready and cast off. 

Had the DS4 anchor not finally bit into the seabed the ship would likely have been aground on the Great Cumbrae shore in approximately 30 minutes, based on its rate of drift up to the point of the anchor holding. 

Clearly this is well in excess of the time required to get any tugs on scene from the transmission of the Mayday signal. 

When the tugs did arrive they did not go to the assistance of DS4, which by this time was secured by its anchor and was positioned approximately half way from the jetty to the Great Cumbrae shore. 

On arrival the tugs immediately went to the assistance of DS8 which was on the point of breaking free from the jetty. 

DS8 had no anchor already deployed, and had it broken free prior to the arrival of the tugs, would likely have been driven ashore in around 15 minutes, based on its high windage and total lack of anything to slow its drift. 

We believe the scenario outlined is entirely credible and as such provides the basis for a strong case for a thorough independent investigation. 

We believe this investigation should not be lead by Peel Ports or the Port Authority, which is also operated by Peel Ports. This arrangement does not provide an acceptable separation from the organisation involved in the incident and the organisation tasked with investigation. 

We firmly believe that the Marine Accident Investigation Branch should carry out the investigation of this incident and call the relevant parties in to provide evidence and statements.

This should include Valaris, as the ship owners, Noah Ship Management as the shipping agents, Republic of Marshall Islands Maritime Administrator as authority for flagging of the ships, and in particular for authorising any changes to manning levels, Intermoor as the providers of the mooring plan, the Providers of the original mooring lines, Peel Ports as the operators and owners of Hunterston Port and jetty, Peel Ports as port authority, Marine Coastguard Agency as incident co-ordinators, RNIB as emergency lifeboat providers, Prestwick SAR as helicopter rescue providers, Tug and support boat providers, Mooring line providers, Civil engineers or Government Agencies or Military Agencies with knowledge of the Hunterston jetty construction and its original design

parameters and expected life expectancy and current status, Contractors involved in the supply of replacement mooring lines, Crane hire company involved in the lift to remove the damaged gangway from the DS4 which was required in order to allow re-berthing of the vessel, and Any others involved in this incident and deemed to be relevant.

The reason for asking for such a wide range of organisations to provide input to this investigation is that we believe that this incident is extremely serious, and in order to get to all the root causes which contributed, a wide ranging and full investigation is required. Only by adopting this approach will the full learning outcomes be delivered. 

As outsiders we do not know what investigation activity has taken place so far. Ideally we would hope that interviews with all relevant people involved in the incident have already taken place and the outcomes recorded. 

In addition to these first hand interview statements we would wish to see the following aspects covered in the investigation, in addition to, or in reinforcement of, those areas that the MAIB would already consider. 

These are our initial queries, and they are not exhaustive, and in the course of any investigation it would be expected that they would lead to more questions. 


Examination of the detailed time-log of events recorded during the incident. 

A full time-log of the incident should be prepared which co-ordinates inputs from all the emergency services, support organisations, ship management and port management sources.

In addition to this basic time-log information the following time based aspects should also be considered: 

Rapid change of plan in accepting DS4 and DS8 at Hunterston. 

The original plan had been for the cable layer Castorone to come to Hunterston jetty on 21st December. AIS data showed that in mid December the Castorone was on route with Hunterston as its destination, but this abruptly changed to Rotterdam, and the owners Saipem had the courtesy to let Fairlie Community Council know that the vessel would indeed not be coming to Hunterston as initially planned. 

On 19th December Valaris DS4 was then underway from Las Palmas, where it had been located for several weeks, bound for Hunterston and was then closely followed by DS8. These ships had, immediately prior to this date, been destined to go from Las Palmas to Almeria in Spain, presumably for long term ‘preservation stacking’. 

The question this poses is: Did Peel Ports have sufficient time to conduct a proper risk assessment of the ‘preservation stacking’ berthing arrangements for these drill ships at Hunterston, given this rapid change in plan?

How long will the ships be held in this ‘preservation stacking’ mode? 

This has implications for the ongoing assurance of the secure berthing arrangements, including agreed manning levels and readiness status of the vessels, and for the environmental aspects of continuing electrical generation from on board diesel engines, and also for possible accumulation of non native invasive species on the ships’ underwater structure from known risk organisms in the area of the jetty, notably Carpet Sea Squirt, Didemnum vexillum. It also poses questions regarding the type of anti-fouling employed on these vessels. Is a TBT based system in use, and if so, have the environmental risks to the enclosed Clyde Estuary been evaluated?

If the ships will now require full on-board readiness to hold position through utilisation of main engines and/or dynamic positioning thrusters, what are the implications for crew levels and ongoing environmental damage from constant emission of diesel exhaust fumes?

Confirmation of the time taken after the Mayday call before the arrival of tugs on scene.

This is important for assessing the robustness of any backup assistance plan and raises questions such as the provision of tug assistance at Hunterston.

Time when DS4 had achieved propulsive power, and how long this was after it was requested by the Coastguard.

This is relevant in the event of a failure of the current tug response arrangements and the rate of drift of DS4. It may also have implications regarding the training and competence of the skeleton crew aboard DS4 at the time of the incident.


This is a complex area and requires full investigation. 

Valaris, the ship owners appear to have a well developed approach to Health, Safety and Environment as detailed in their HSE Policy document dated April 2019 and signed by their President and CEO Dr Tom Burke. This statement makes, among others, a commitment to ‘Identify the root causes of incidents and non-conformities, and apply measures to prevent reoccurrence.’ As such we would expect them to welcome this document in assisting them to achieve this commitment. 

However, Valaris as ship owners are in the midst of a demanding bankruptcy, debt for equity swap process, and business restructuring exercise. This poses questions regarding the focus of the Valaris senior management on the day to day operational aspects of the business.

Who in Valaris had operational responsibility for these ships?

What level of scrutiny was applied by Valaris to the long term berthing of these high value assets, approximately one billion dollars per ship, at the Hunterston jetty?

Has the Texas based judge who is overseeing the Valaris bankruptcy and restructuring plan, and the bond-holders who must agree the conditions of the restructuring plan been made aware of the near potential loss of the remaining two Valaris deep water drilling vessels? 

Valaris have already committed to the scrapping of the other three deep water drill ships of this class in their fleet. The loss of the two ships at Hunterston could have had dramatic consequences for the future of the Valaris business through capital loss, bond- holder confidence loss, and significant other reputational damage. These are credible consequences, had the incident taken the course we have presented as having only been avoided by luck. 

Have the Valaris board taken these factors into account in their decision making around the need for a thorough, in-depth investigation of this incident?

Ship Management company 

What were the responsibilities of Noah Ship Management, which is based in the United Arab Emirates, regarding the berthing arrangements at Hunterston?

What knowledge did Noah Ship Management have of Hunterston as a ‘preservation stacking’ base for high windage ships of the type DS4 and DS8?

Who determined the reduced manning levels for these ships?

Was the reduced manning level properly and legally authorised by the Maritime Administrator of the ships’ flag state of The Republic of The Marshall Islands?

Was a written request for Minimum Safe Manning Certificates submitted to the Maritime Administrator?

Did the Maritime Administrator approve the request?

Were the approval certificates available for inspection on the vessels as required?

These reduced manning issues are legally enforced and are internationally agreed. It is important that these factors are clearly investigated and either verified as being within compliance or not. If they are not in compliance this will require further investigation.

Company Providing the Mooring Plan 

Intermoor were the providers of the mooring plan. Failure of the mooring arrangements poses the following questions:

What responsibility does Intermoor have for the failures?

What detailed knowledge of the location, the jetty arrangements and design, the vessel parameters, in particular the wind loading, and the local meteorological conditions, did Intermoor have to allow them to calculate and specify the number, type and orientation of the mooring lines employed?

Did Peel Ports, as operators of the Hunterston jetty, supply detailed information as above to assist Intermoor in their calculations?

Peel Ports as Operators of the Hunterston Jetty and as Port Authority for the wider Clyde Estuary 

A significant conflict of interest arises from the involvement of Peel Ports as both a commercial operator and as Port Authority in the Clyde. This is particularly relevant in incident investigation situations such as the present example. 

This lack of independence can manifest itself in terms of standard setting and compliance monitoring, particularly in respect of safety and environmental controls. 

The commercial pressures to obtain business for the organisation should not outweigh the responsible controls. 

When both roles are within the same overall company structure an unhealthy tension can be created and can lead to poor decision making and management failures. 

The dual role of Peel Ports as both commercial operator and as Port Authority should be challenged as part of the longer term safety and environmental improvement plan for the Clyde area.

Peel Ports management presence on site at Hunterston is to all intents, absent. The site is essentially manned by a single security operator at the entrance gate. 

What management presence at Hunterston does Peel Ports claim to have at present? Given this latest incident, what management presence will Peel Ports introduce?

During the recovery operations required following the current incident several examples of breaches of safety practice took place on the jetty and were witnessed by local residents. 

Evidence of lack of clarity of required Personal Protective Equipment. Most organisations present had operators suitably equipped. However some operators involved with shore line replacement handling appeared to not be wearing life-jackets, despite being at the unprotected quay edge. 

During a difficult and high hazard lift operation to remove a damaged gangway from the starboard side of DS4, which involved the use of a large mobile crane located on the jetty, and the ship not yet moored but holding station close to the jetty, two of a team of five shore based operators, who were trying to control the load from below, were not wearing hard hats. This put them in serious danger from possible falling objects from the damaged gangway and was in breach of any good lifting practice and was clearly non compliant. 

Was there any Peel Ports management presence on the jetty during these safety critical aspects of the recovery operation?

If there was any Peel Ports management present on the jetty at these times why did they not stop the activity and ensure the proper Personal Protective Equipment was being worn by all personnel involved?

These questions are raised because the recovery activities are essentially part of the overall incident. 

Marine and Coastguard Agency, Marine Accident Investigation Branch, Health and Safety Executive. 

We believe it would be appropriate for all three of these external agencies to be involved in the investigation of this incident. 

The MCA have much of the first hand incident information generated during the actual event, including clear time-logs. 

The MAIB are best placed to head the appropriate independent investigation. The HSE should be involved to examine any shore-side aspects. For example: Any shore-side risks arising from breaking of mooring lines under tension.

Risks to emergency personnel and others accessing the jetty at night in poor lighting conditions and severe weather in order to render assistance.

Investigation of the Health and Safety concerns outlined above during the recovery operation, and assessment of the appropriateness of the level of management presence at the site in general.

The three organisations have a Memorandum of Understanding for dealing with cross sector events, and it appears that this incident fulfils the requirements for such an approach. 


The skills and training of those involved in the incident should be examined. 

In particular the skills and training of the skeleton crew members should be explored in depth in order to establish whether they were adequate to deal with the situation on the night of the incident. 

Did they have sufficient knowledge to start the main engines when requested to do so by the coastguard?

If not, what was the reason?

Were people of the appropriate level in place, and were there enough of them? Was there a person of Captain level aboard at the time of the incident?

If not, what was the rationale for dealing with an emergency situation of this type or similar? SIMILAR EVENTS

Large ships being blown off berths is not a particularly uncommon incident. 

Most codes of practice and regulations rely on the readiness of the vessel to take appropriate action and to have sufficient trained crew in place to deal with such circumstances. 

They also rely on the appropriate availability of tug assistance at short notice in the event of on-board difficulties. 

In this incident it appeared that the ships had been left in an unready condition and with a much reduced crewing level. 

Why was this decision made?

Was the decision influenced by cost saving?

Was the decision influenced by the berthing offer made by Peel Ports?

The last question is important because Peel Ports have recent experience of a similar un-berthing incident in 2018. In this incident the Oceania Cruises ship ‘Nautica’ broke free from her berth at Greenock Terminal and had to summon tug assistance to prevent her drift and to get her back to the berth. The ship was an eleven deck design with very high windage characteristics, particularly when beam-on to the wind. These conditions are very similar to those encountered with the drill ships at Hunterston, albeit the wind during the latest incident was somewhat lower than that encountered in the 2018 event. 

Was the ‘Nautica’ incident investigated and by whom?

What lessons did Peel Ports learn from the ‘Nautica’ incident?

Did Peel Ports apply this learning to the berthing of the drill ships at Hunterston?


Environmental Aspects with possible impact on the incident 

The easterly wind at the time of the incident was high, but not abnormally so for this location at Hunterston 

The Largs Channel is well known as an area where high velocity, offshore, katabatic winds exist. 

The low temperatures at the time of the incident would have contributed to a small, but significant increase in air density and hence, by direct proportion to the wind loading on the ship. 

Much more importantly however was the peak wind velocity, and in particular at height. The wind loading on the ship at the point where the first lines parted would be determined by the square of the maximum wind gust velocity. At the higher parts of these ships the wind velocity will be considerably higher than at sea level. 

Given that it is well known that offshore winds in the vicinity of Hunterston are extremely gusty in nature, were any of the above factors communicated by Peel Ports to the ship owners, their agents or those involved in preparing the mooring plan, and before anyone took a decision to bring such high windage vessels to this location for long term, low manned, storage?

Change in environmental condition of the jetty following demolition activities 

In its original design the Hunterston jetty was equipped with two very large off-loading cranes, one substantial on-loader, and a high capacity overhead covered conveyor system. 

All this equipment has been removed. The jetty is now a bare structure. Any wind deflecting or attenuating features are now absent. This is particularly relevant to ships moored on the west side of the jetty and exposed to unabated easterly winds pushing them off the berth. 

The jetty head is approximately a kilometre from the shore line. There is consequently no, or very little, land based shelter as would be normally expected from trees, hedges, hillocks, buildings etc. on a shore based quay. Indeed the previous location of Hunterston National Offshore Wind Turbine Testing Facility some 1.5km away, and which claimed an environment similar to real offshore locations, would leave no doubt that this is an exposed site. The turbine test centre was located on Peel land. 

Locating two extremely tall drill ships, with a combined length in excess of the total jetty head length appears illogical, particularly if the intention was to leave them essentially skeleton manned for up to two years. 

Did Peel Ports as owners of the jetty consider these changed factors before bringing these drill ships to Hunterston?

Other jetty environment/location factors 

The location of the jetty less than 1.5km from the shore of the Great Cumbrae may well provide shelter from westerly winds, but in the event of un-berthing in strong easterly winds, as was the case in this incident, it poses a significant risk to serious grounding. The Cumbrae shore in that region is almost entirely red sandstone rock. Had either of the vessels been driven ashore there then it is likely that significant damage to the vessel hulls would have taken place. 

The jetty is also located relatively close to Hunterston Nuclear Station. Had the wind been from a more northerly direction there is a possibility that the ships could have been blown towards either the outlet or the inlet water offshore facilities of the Station. 

Were these environmental factors considered by Peel Ports and the other organisations involved in the berthing proposals?

Environmental Risks arising from the ships 

Had the incident resulted in grounding of these vessels, what were the possible environmental effects on the local area and the Clyde estuary in general?

We know from examination of the Valaris data sheets that vessels such as DS4 have the following approximate capacities for the main materials required: 

Diesel Fuel Oil 4,400 te 

Drill Water 2,600 te 

Liquid Mud 7,000 te 

Bulk Stored Solid Barytes ( Barium Sulphate) 2,000 te 

What are the current inventories of potentially environmentally damaging materials on the two ships?

What tonnage of fuel oil? 

What tonnage of drilling mud and what composition of drilling mud stored? What other potentially environmentally damaging materials?

What assessment has been done to determine the environmental risks posed and the measures to be taken in the event of environmental releases, particularly associated with the long term nature of the ship storage and the low manning?

In the aftermath of the incident it would appear that the ships are now holding station at the jetty in easterly wind conditions by running their main engines and thrusters. The implication of this is that fuel oil combustion products from the ships will be emitted in the local area for the foreseeable future. The actual effects of this are not acceptable, but the sheer irony of the situation will not be lost on elected officials once it is made clear. This is taking place at a site which Peel Ports has titled ‘Hunterston Green Energy Parc’. The Scottish Government is pouring millions of pounds into the

nationalised shipyard at Ferguson, Greenock in an attempt to deliver two Dual Fuel Ferries, one destined for the Ardrossan to Brodick route on the Clyde. Glasgow is spending millions on hydrogen powered bin lorries and Scotland is about to host the COP 26 world conference in Glasgow in November. 

Have Peel Ports considered the acceptability of this situation and what is their response?

How does this situation fit with the wording of the Valaris statement on its website in the section ‘Our Commitment’. ‘Through our values we strive to behave with integrity and do not cause harm to people, property, environment, and the communities around us’?

Are Valaris senior management aware of the issues we have identified?

Environmental risks associated with Non Native Invasive Species 

It is well known that there is an environmental risk associated with carpet sea squirt, Didemnum vexillum in the Largs Channel area. This species has been detected in Largs Marina and is believed to be present on the jetty structure at Hunterston. The species is particularly attracted to man-made structures and thrives in shaded underwater areas where lower tidal currents are present. There is a distinct possibility that this species could colonise the underwater hull area of the two ships, particularly due to the long term storage and non movement of the vessels. 

Peel Ports are well aware of the Didemnum vexillum problem in the Clyde and have issued their own guidance notice as part of their Port Authority responsibility. 

Did Peel Ports consider the risks from Non Native Invasive Species before arranging the long term berthing of these vessels in a known hot-spot for Didemnum vexillum?


Mooring warps 

There are a number of technical questions around the specification and condition of the mooring warps used prior to the incident, but this is difficult for us to comment on in detail from a remote perspective. 

We would expect any investigation to cover such aspects as: 

Material of construction, load characteristics, age, storage conditions, previous use, UV exposure, damage, chafe and chafe protection, point of failure under load, tensile tests on samples of recovered lines, number of lines employed etc.

At a more general level we would make the following observations. 

The angle at which some of the shore-lines passed from the jetty to the ship seemed to be very steep. This was particularly true near the bow section and was most pronounced where shore-lines were rigged from the separate mooring dolphin at the north end of the jetty. Here lines were very steeply angled upwards from a centre point of the dolphin and since the ship was essentially moored

alongside the dolphin, with its bow projecting further northward, resulted in short lines with little or no longitudinal angle to the ship. In fact no line at this mooring point was secured forward of the bow. In order to compensate for this lack of forward oriented bow line we believe a decision was made to deploy the ship’s anchor to achieve a measure of longitudinal stability. 

The centre fixing point on the dolphin was, we believe, originally designed to utilise hook style warp fixings and was intended to provide a suitable bow or stern fixing location for warps deployed by a single cape-sized vessel whose full hull lay along the jetty head proper. It appears to us that the dolphin was clearly designed as a ‘mooring dolphin’. In the case of the DS4 mooring arrangement the bow of the ship projected beyond the dolphin, which makes it appear more akin to a ‘berthing dolphin’. There must have been some question in the minds of those at Peel Ports regarding the suitability of the dolphin since just prior to the original berthing of DS4 a tug appeared to attach a tow line to the central mooring point of the dolphin and proceeded to pull on the fixing for some considerable time. 

If this was a test to determine the strength of the fixing how was it quantified, and approved?

Had the fixing failed during the ‘test’, what were the possible consequences and was this ‘test’ risk assessed?

Although failure of the mooring lines was the event immediately preceding the un-berthing of DS4 from the jetty it is only one small, but significant factor in the cause of the incident, and it would be useful to keep this in mind. It is important to identify the immediate cause failures of the lines, but 

all the factors outlined in this paper need to be considered to get to the real root causes of the incident. 

Deployment of the anchor on DS4 

As we have already indicated, the fact that DS4 had its anchor already deployed, which in our view, was part of the flawed mooring arrangement described above, saved the day and prevented both ships from being driven ashore. 

However we know from AIS data that the anchor dragged for nearly half a mile before eventually biting into the sea bed and halting the drift. It would appear then that the anchor was not bedded in at its original drop position to the north of Fairlie Patch buoy. This may have been due to the efforts to get the anchor as far forward of the bow of DS4 as possible to provide as much bow stabilising tension as could be delivered? It appeared that DS4 reversed to the berth while paying out chain at the appropriate rate. It is likely that the load applied to the anchor during this operation was not sufficient to bed the anchor in. When the high loading was suddenly applied by the ship leaving the berth it appeared that the anchor merely skipped along the seabed for some considerable distance. We do not know precisely how much chain was originally deployed and we do not know whether the crew let out more chain during the drifting period to arrest the ship. These questions require to be answered by those involved.

Wind Loading on the ship 

Clearly the wind loading on these types of ships is very large and in particular in a beam-on to wind situation as was the case on the night of the incident. We are aware of the complicated fluid

dynamic calculations required to determine the precise wind loading and the resulting force exerted on the ship and therefore on its mooring lines. 

Does this data exist for the vessels involved?

If the data exists was it provided to Intermoor for their calculations?

Can a calculation be done which inputs the weather information for the night of the incident in order to define categorically what loads were put on the lines and which then resulted in the line failures and the incident?

Did Peel Ports consider asking for this data in order to risk assess the suitability of the shore-side mooring hardware at the jetty?

In order to help us gain knowledge of the effects of wind loading on mooring practices we have studied the documentation available for Faslane in the Gareloch which is controlled by the Queens Harbour Master as Port Authority. Their documentation, Clyde Dockyard Ports, Entry and Departure Guidelines for Vessels, March 2011, sets wind speed limits for berthing at Jetty numbers 1 and 2, which are used for conventional ships. These limits are set for vessels having a large air cross section in order to protect both the ship and the berthing infrastructure. The limit is set at 3,500 m2. The relevant statement is as follows: 

‘Vessels with air cross section greater than 3,500 m2, berthed at 1 & 2 berth will be directed to proceed to sea at sustained winds of 35 kts.’ 

A very approximate calculation of the beam-on air cross section of a Samsung drillship of the DS4 type gave a value of 8,800m2. Even if the estimate is not precise we believe this shows the scale of the air cross section or windage issues present. This poses the question: 

Do Peel Ports as Hunterston jetty owners or as Port Authority have a similar set of controls for directing ships to sea where high air cross section and high wind speed conditions are present?

If they do not have such controls, why not?

In order to have appropriate wind speed data we believe a receiving jetty should be equipped with appropriate real-time wind speed and direction equipment. We can see no evidence of such equipment on the Hunterston jetty structure. There is a wind instrument at the control tower, but this is located inland over a kilometre from the jetty head. 

Does Peel Ports have adequate wind speed and direction equipment installed at the jetty head to allow safe berthing of incoming vessels and inform masters of the real-time conditions at the berth before arrival?

Equipment such as that described was formerly located on top of one of the un-loader cranes, but does not appear to have been replaced following demolition of the cranes.

Condition of the Hunterston Jetty and its suitability for current and proposed uses 

This incident involving large forces being exerted on the jetty has raised questions locally as to the general engineering status of the jetty. The jetty is over 50 years old. The questions arising are: 

What was the original design life of the jetty?

Are the original engineering drawings and specifications held by Peel Ports or others? Is the design suitable for the current and proposed uses being considered by Peel Ports? When was the last full civil engineering status survey completed and what was the outcome? How is corrosion protection provided for the jetty?

Did the jetty have an impressed current cathodic protection system as part of its original design? If so how does this function in the absence of shore power?

Fairlie Community Council have prepared this document because it wishes to see a properly conducted investigation into the incident of Tuesday 2nd February. 

If such an investigation is carried out properly then everyone will learn from it and improve standards. Our document may appear excessive, but one thing is sure, no serious incident occurs because of one or two isolated failures. All serious incidents have many failures of barriers which have been breached and finally lead to the event itself. This is an ideal example to do a proper investigation free from the burden on the conscience imposed by possible death, injury or environmental destruction. 

We repeat again. The only reason there was no major environmental damage, loss of life or serious reputational damage to the many organisations involved in this incident was LUCK. Ultimately luck was the factor determining the actual outcome. 

We have prepared this in good faith as a group of unpaid residents. We urge you to take it seriously.

Fairlie Community Council

A78 Pedestrian Crossing

“Following the work done in 2018 when we did a survey of village to see if there was a need for a second pedestrian crossing on the A78 and we have finally got the go ahead.

The proposal is detailed in the consultation letter documents , and we are asking for views and opinions in a final consultation period which closes on the 29th January 2021.

If you have anything you would like us to put forward, please use the ‘Contact Us’ section of this website.

Many thanks,
Karla Tully


A78 South of 101 Main Road, Fairlie – Proposed Pedestrian Crossing.

Following requests from the community, Amey, the operating company for the South West Trunk Road Network, are pleased to inform you that we are looking to install a new signal-controlled pedestrian crossing facility in Fairlie. The proposed location is slightly north the pedestrian guard rail where the existing footpath to and from Fairlie Primary School meets the eastern footway of the A78 (Main Street).

The new crossing facility will provide opportunities for all pedestrians to cross the A78 to access local amenities and transport links with a greater degree of safety.

Amey are contacting you at this time to gather any comments you may have on the proposed installation.

For your information we have carried out extensive surveys of both the traffic and pedestrian movements and considered the constraints of the current unique road layout that exists in Fairlie at this location. This relates particularly to the narrowness of the footways, the close proximity of residential properties and the substantial stone walls that border the A78 to the rear of eastern footway.

This information enabled us to locate the crossing at a position that best suits the needs of the community based upon the pedestrian movements identified. The proposed location also considers the buildability of the facility and to meet with current government guidance that requires inclusive design in the construction, operation and maintenance of road infrastructure.

Inclusive design is an approach which aims to create environments which can be used by everyone regardless of age or disability.

A location plan is attached for your reference.

A78 – Fairlie – Proposed Location of Pedestrian Crossing.

A78 location plan
location plan of the proposed A78 pedestrian crossing

A78 street view of pedestrian crossing

Police Report 08/12/20 – 11/01/21


  08/12/20 to 11/01/21




Ward Priorities
1. Drug Dealing and Drug Misuse

2. Road Safety/Road Crime

3. Violence and Antisocial Behaviour

4. Dishonesty


Your Community Policing Officers – Ward – North Coast and Cumbrae


Our team covers Skelmorlie, Largs, Fairlie and West Kilbride. Inspector Convery leads the community policing team for your area.
Sergeants Police Officers
Sgt Sharon Kerr U219 PC Thomas Arthur U306

PC Simon Winsor U17

PC Dominic Murphy U522


Sub-Divisional Update
Results taken for 8th December 2020 to 11th January 2021.

35 calls to police Scotland resulting in 1 crime reports being raised this year, compared to 23 calls to police Scotland and 2 crime reports raised for the same period last year.

No crimes of note for this period for the area.

Although there was an increase in incidents reported to the police compared to last year, this is mainly as a result of an increase in COVID related calls to police, though it should be noted that after police attendance/enquiry, no COVID breaches took place.



Contact us
In an emergency always dial 999

For non-urgent crime, you can contact your local police office by telephoning 101.

Our Twitter and Facebook sites are not for reporting crime and they are not monitored 24/7.

Facebook – Twitter – @AyrshireEPolice

E-mail –

The following is a summary of the crimes and offences since the last report:


Crime Statistics : Monthly Report


Crime Type Offences Detected Offences Committed compared with 2019
Road traffic 0 0 0
Vandalism 1 0 1
HB & HBWI 0 0 0
Thefts 0 0 0
Poss. Drugs 0 0 0
Common Assault 0 0 0
Breach of the Peace 0 0 0
Fraud 1 0 0
Other 0 0 0

*figures relate to relevant Multi-Member Ward Area.

Concerns Raised by Community Council












FCC Agenda – 11/01/21

Amended Fairlie Community Council Agenda 11.1.21

Welcome and Apologies

Approval of December 2020 Minute

1 Police report (If DM not there another PC will attend and update DM)

2 A78 (Update from KarlaT re proposed pedestrian crossing)

3 NA Councillors` updates

4 Synchronous Compensator (Update from Alan Holden)

5 Peel Ports (Clydeport Operational Ltd) Application re variation of Planning Condition 4 re N/17/01273/PP (“the Permission”)

6 Hunterston SSG update re HNA and HNB (RH)

7 Hunterston Parc/Jetty update/ noise

8 Dawn Homes

9 The Coastal Cyclepath

The next FCC meeting (zoom) is Monday 1st February 2021.