Orkney agrees to approach Ministry of Defence on navy oil spill

Oil contamination exists on the Lyness site, which used to be a Royal Navy fuel depot.
Oil contamination exists on the Lyness site, which used to be a Royal Navy fuel depot.

Orkney Islands Council has agreed to write to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to help meet a £384,000 bill to clean up a navy oil spill from the 1960s.

The local authority wants to redevelop Lyness port, on the island of Hoy, to take advantage of increased activity in oil and gas decommissioning.

In order to do so, the council needs to carry out the costly task of extracting heavy oil trapped below the site from when it was used as a Royal Navy fuel depot.

At a full meeting yesterday, councillors agreed to put in a request with the MoD to meet the “not inconsiderable cost”.

Orkney planning officers have conceded it may be difficult to persuade the UK Government to step in, as the council took over ownership of the Lyness site in the 1970s while aware of the contamination issue.

The council believes there is huge economic opportunity for Lyness in terms of decommissioning work due to its location between the North Sea and North Atlantic, which are rife with energy-related activities.

A spokesman for the local authority said: “Following yesterday’s meeting of the Full Council, we will be writing to the Ministry of Defence to ask for a financial contribution towards the cost of remediation work at Lyness.

“The work involves contamination from an oil spillage at a time when the land was used as a Royal Navy/NATO fuel depot and owned by the MoD.

“Further discussion of the work will take place at a future meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee, once a response has been received from the MoD.”

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