SAFETY fears have been raised by an environmental group about 'highly explosive' liquid gas featuring in Peel Ports masterplan for the future of Hunterston.

Friends of the Firth of Clyde have voiced strong opposition to a liquid natural gas terminal mentioned in the company's 20 year strategy.

Peel Ports have hit back, saying that a Scottish Enterprise report issued in December 2017 endorses liquid natural gas as a 'safe technology' although the report did voice concerns regarding the carbon footprint impact.

Peel Ports told the News last month that they would welcome ideas and thoughts from the local community and are completing a six week consultation on their masterplan.

The Friends of the Firth of Clyde have voiced strong opposition to several of the industries being put forward so far by Peel, including the oil rig decommissioning plan.

A spokesperson for the group said: "Liquid natural gas is highly explosive. Siting it next to a nuclear power station, or an oil rig decommissioning site, would be madness.

"There have been terrible accidents, well documented on the internet, causing widespread destruction to buildings and life."

It was also pointed out in the document that LNG terminals are generally sited away from centres of population. Peel Ports propose to site this 400m from Southannan Estate.

Peel Ports say the use of Hunterston as the location for an LNG terminal has received support from Scottish Enterprise in a recent report.

The document states that LNG has been transported by marine vessels and used safely worldwide for approximately 40 years and the industry has 'an excellent safety record'.

The plans are against Scotland’s climate change goals according to Green MSP Ross Greer, who has quizzed Nicola Sturgeon about the proposals at First Minister's Questions.

He said: “Local residents are seriously worried, so it was welcome to hear the First Minister recognised the concerns I raised with her. It’s now vital that the council and government agencies take those concerns, as well as their own climate commitments, on board before assessing the proposals further."

PeelPorts masterplan for the next 20 years includes various project options including oil rig decommissioning, aquaculture and a train manufacturing plant.

Karen Yeomans, executive director for economy and communities for North Ayrshire Council, said: "While many of the indicative uses set out in the plan are compliant with the direction and general strategic approach of the local development plan, further detail to consider the merits of all of the indicative uses, in particular power generation, decommissioning of vessels and land-based aquaculture, would be required."

The Friends of the Firth of Clyde have suggested a clean energy technology park, marina and environmental retreat with the dry dock as a marina complex, combining eco-tourism and eco-technology.

Independent councillor Cllr Ian Murdoch said: "I am concerned about the whole of the Peel Ports masterplan and in particular the LNG proposal.

"I don't think the council response to the Peel Ports' masterplan goes anywhere near far enough and is relatively supportive of the Peel Ports project."