CAMPAIGNERS have cast doubt on claims that a £75m oil rig decommissioning site at Hunterston could create more than 500 jobs.

MSP Kenneth Gibson is under fire over a statement that 520 posts would be generated by the controversial project, which has sparked uproar from local residents.

The Friends of the Firth of Clyde pressure group have written to Mr Gibson accusing him of not addressing 'genuine concerns of residents and business leaders'.

It comes after he issued a leaflet to householders about the proposed scheme at the Peel Ports site.

Community activists have branded it as 'propaganda in favour of Peel Ports' and say it overlooks opposition from the residents of Fairlie and surrounding areas.

The group said: "You’ve stated that an initial 240 jobs would be created, increasing up to 520.

"This seems an astoundingly large number of jobs.

"We understand that at Dales Voe, Shetland there are 35 jobs undertaking decommissioning.

"Paul Wheelhouse, SNP energy minister, recently announced that this was Scotland’s optimal site for decom work.

"We’d like to know, if the optimal site has 35 jobs, how will Peel Port create 240-520 jobs?"

The group say Mr Gibson believes that the proposed facility will not hamper tourism and say he has cited the coal unloading terminal in support of this argument.

Their letter asks him: "Please can you explain what research are you referring to, to conclude that the coal terminal did not impact tourism?

"What risk assessment have you undertaken regarding the significant visual impact of oil rigs from West Kilbride to Largs and from Millport?

"What assessment have you reviewed to understand the noise impact to the surrounding community?

"The coal platform was annoying to residents, but the coal platform noise is estimated to be a fraction of that caused by decommissioning these dangerous platforms."

Mr Gibson has pointed out that Hunterston Construction Yard was historically used for oil rig fabrication and is part of an area designated for industrial use.

He says the Scottish Government should only support the decommissioning facility if it will 'deliver significant additional employment to North Ayrshire without damaging the environment'.

The SNP man added: "Any decommissioning on the site will be regulated by Marine Scotland and SEPA, who will manage any impact on the marine environment through licenses and no work can be undertaken before these are obtained."