A GREEN Party MSP has launched a bid to force an environmental study into the controversial oil rig decommissioning yard at Hunterston.

Ross Greer has asked the Scottish Government to intervene after North Ayrshire Council decided a formal impact assessment was needed.

Activists have repeatedly expressed fears over the development and now the Friends of the Firth of Clyde group have enlisted the support of Mr Greer as they step up heir campaign.

The council decided last year not to trigger an assessment in relation to three individual planning applications from Clydeport in relation to caisson gates and a dry dock.

But Mr Greer wants Rosanna Cunningham, the environment secretary to intervene by ministerial review.

The MSP said: "North Ayrshire Council deemed the Environmental Impact Assessment to be unnecessary despite opinions to the contrary given by Scottish Natural Heritage and Marine Scotland.

"Residents and environmentalists were initially surprised to hear that it was possible for Clydeport to be allowed to undertake works of this magnitude and of such potentially hazardous nature.

"The waste management application to SEPA suggests the handling of up to 250,000 tonnes of waste per year in a site immediately adjoining a site of Special Scientific Interest - Southannan Sands - and close to the village of Fairlie."

Mr Greer believes that Friends of the Firth of Clyde have, using Freedom of Information law requests, uncovered flaws in the decision-making process which found no need for a full assessment on the site.

He added: "These requests, and other evidence gathered, have demonstrated that North Ayrshire Council, while appearing to carry out the appropriate consultations with the relevant consulting bodies, Scottish Natural Heritage and Marine Scotland, appeared not to heed their views when deciding that an EIA wasn't necessary. "The fact that they issued their screening decision on 19 May 2017 while Marine Scotland were still discussing the matter of an environmental impact assessment with Scottish Natural Heritage appears to both residents and myself to show quite clearly that North Ayrshire Council had no intention of taking the views of Marine Scotland into account."

There are concerns that the yard could hit tourism, with large oil rigs being brought to the Clyde to be broken up.

At last week's full North Ayrshire Council meeting, local independent councillor Ian Murdoch asked: “Will the promotion and operation of tourism be affected by the Oil Rig Decommissioning Site at Hunterston and the operation of industry within Hunterston Park?”

Labour councillor Alex Gallagher responded: “Hunterston is a strategic industrial investment site being promoted for development by the Peel Group.

"The site has been an industrial location for over 60 years and is of national importance as an energy hub and deep water port and as such, has a critical role in the diversification of the economy.

"Our approach to developing a more resilient and vibrant North Ayrshire economy is to build upon the area’s strategic assets and ensure that our local residents are equipped to take advantage of good quality local jobs.

"Tourism is a key component of this strategy and initiatives such as the the Ayrshire Growth Deal proposals to strengthen our marine tourism offer should attract more visitors.

"Moreover investment and job creation in our strategic locations at Hunterston and I3 play a vital part in developing a year round economy, which in turn supports the growth of the hospitality, food and drink sectors."

Largs Community Council is set to host the first North Coast and Cumbrae joint community council meeting to discuss plans for the oil rig decommissioning site at Hunterston.

It will be held at 7pm on Thursday February 21 at Largs Academy Campus.

The Friends of the Firth of Clyde group will be in attendance to provide a presentation.

The meeting will discuss the proposals and hear an update on the parts played by North Ayrshire Council, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage and Marine Scotland in the process so far.

There will also be a question-and-answer session.

NAC response to follow.......................