A Fairlie marine biologist believes serious questions must be asked of the Peel Ports decommissioning project at Hunterston.

David Nairn has presented an online report at www.fairliecoastal.org highlighting various concerns about the controversial project, and has repeated calls for a full Environmental Impact Assessment on the development site.

Mr Nairn has also called for the planning applications into the development so far to be called in and for a full public inquiry.

He claims that dredging at the hammerhead quay, which was granted planning permission earlier this year, will take place above mean low water spring level, and would therefore have a direct impact on the Site of Scientific Special Interest (SSSI) to the extent of 18,385 metres squared. However, the developers Peel Ports have continually insisted that there will be no infringement to the SSSI.

Mr Nairn, who is a community councillor, and a member of the Friends of the Firth of Clyde group, states that "It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly damage any natural feature specified in a SSSI notification which includes biological, intertidal marine habitats and saline lagoons: sandflats.

"Development threat to these features are considered a significant impact of national scope. Any direct threat should trigger a mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment."

Speaking to the 'News', Independent councillor Ian Murdoch said "Due to the location of the site next to the SSSI, I have been asking why there hasn't been an EIA.

"We are here to protect the local population and I am still seeking clarity. I have been told that the council have followed the due process.

"It is clear that people's fears have not been allayed and if there had been an EIA, we wouldn't be in this situation today."

However, Labour councillor Alex Gallagher stated in a recent council report: "We are aware of the concerns raised by some members of the local community about the prospect of an oil rig decommissioning site at this location and its potential impact on the environment, wildlife and tourism.

"There is no infringement of the SSSI.

"We also recognise that the Hunterston peninsula and deep water port has the capability of bringing national and international levels of investment to Ayrshire and Scotland and as such has the potential to transform the economic prospects of this area."

However, following the recent North Ayrshire Council meeting, Mr Nairn said: "This was accepted in good faith by planning and environmental authorities and used to justify the negative EIA screening opinions.

"It is clear to anyone that visits the site during the period of mean low water spring tides that the proposed dredging activity will directly, and destructively, impact the SSSI."

A spokesperson for Peel Ports said, “Peel Ports appreciates the concerns of the local community with regards to the environment. All potential environmental effects will have to be fully assessed and mitigated in collaboration with Marine Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage, who are the custodians of the natural environment. In addition, noise, air and water pollution are heavily regulated to ensure that standards are maintained and Peel Ports will adhere to the appropriate statutory environmental requirements.”