An emergency response safety exercise, which simulates an oil spill in the Firth of Forth, will take place on Tuesday 2 May 2023 in the vicinity of Longniddry.

Clearwater Forth - the oil pollution preparedness, response and cooperation plan - is tested annually by Forth Ports, the statutory harbour authority for the Firth of Forth, and requires the close involvement of local agencies and estuary users. East Lothian Council will partner with Forth Ports for the exercise this year and it is likely that the exercise will result in some activity around the Longniddry beach area. Residents and walkers should not be alarmed by this activity.

Alan McPherson, Chief Harbour Master, Forth Ports, said: “These training exercises help us all gain experience so that we are better equipped to respond speedily and effectively should a real oil spillage ever occur in the river. Safety is a top priority for Forth Ports and all the other organisations involved in Clearwater Forth.

“No-one in the local area of Longniddry should be alarmed if they see activity, it’s an exercise and there is no risk to the environment, people or property. We look at all kinds of situations during exercises and build on any lessons that arise so that we can improve our emergency procedures and be better placed to protect the local communities and the environment.”

Monica Patterson, Chief Executive, East Lothian Council, said: “Protecting the environment and East Lothian’s coastline is a key priority for the council and our local communities. This response exercise provides the council and our partners with the opportunity to test arrangements to ensure we are well-positioned to respond should any actual incident ever occur. We welcome the opportunity to participate in the exercise. We hope this provides re-assurance to residents.”

Oil Pollution Contingency Plan

East Lothian has one of the most beautiful coast lines in Scotland and boasts a unique landscape hosting a huge amount of natural history and historic sites. The Firth of Forth is home to spectacular seabird colonies. East Lothian has the Bass Rock within its environs, that has become world famous and home to 150,000 gannets, the largest such colony in the world.

Puffins, guillemots, razorbills, shags, fulmars and kittiwakes return to East Lothian in spring to nest each year. Notably the area has the biggest puffin colony on the east coast of Britain.

The Firth of Forth waters are rich with marine wildlife. This includes grey seals and there have been sightings of bottlenose dolphins, risso's dolphins, Porpoises and whales including minke, pilot, fin, humpback and killer whales.

East Lothian residents, and visitors alike, praise the beauty and wildlife of the area and highlight it as one of the reasons why they choose to live or holiday in the area on a regular basis.

It is partly for these reasons that East Lothian Council takes Oil Pollution and the environment so seriously and as a result has produced an East Lothian Council Oil Pollution contingency plan. The continued maintenance and exercising of this plan is extremely important and this includes regular training.

Clearwater Forth is an established emergency response plan designed to handle incidents on the river which may involve the risk of oil pollution. The plan is the responsibility of Forth Ports and is only required to be tested every three years. However, Forth Ports tests this on an annual basis as the ports group views safety as a priority.

About Forth Ports

Forth Ports Limited owns and operates eight commercial ports in the UK – Tilbury on the Thames, Dundee on the Firth of Tay and six on the Firth of Forth – Leith, Grangemouth, Rosyth, Methil, Burntisland and Kirkcaldy. Within and around the Firths of Forth and Tay, Forth Ports manages and operates an area of 280 square miles of navigable waters, including two specialised marine terminals for oil and gas export and provides other marine services, such as towage and conservancy.        


Published: Tuesday, 25th April 2023