A petition has been launched against Forth Ports controversial decision to block a Greenpeace ship from berthing in the Port of Leith.
The Esperanza, a former Soviet navy ship, which is the largest in the Greenpeace fleet, arrived in the Firth of Forth on Wednesday – it is believed its crew plans to stay in the estuary for one week.
Greenpeace is in Scotland to support plans for a deposit and return scheme on drinks containers that would potentially reduce plastic pollution in the sea – the group says no direct action is planned.
Forth Ports, which runs the Port of Leith, told the campaign group it cannot dock as the port is already full but a compromise was agreed allowing the vessel to moor off Granton Harbour in the Forth.
A French warship the FS Languedoc, with around 140 sailors on board was among ships moored at Leith docks yesterday.
Michael Traill, from Leith, started the online petition which has more than 1,200 supporters.
He said: “I take an interest in Leith and the environment and I was disappointed with the position that Forth Ports were taking – they should have let the Greenpeace boat berth.
“I spoke to local people, some who work in Leith Docks and they said that there’s ample space there and it’s actually a very rare occurrence that the Port of Leith is full to capacity.
“The petition has got a lot of people talking and has made the issue high profile.”
Willie Mackenzie, an oceans expert with Greenpeace UK, said: “We were surprised to be refused entry for the Esperanza to dock in Leith, and had to explore other options after hitting a bottleneck with the Forth Ports authority.
“But we’re pleased to now be anchored outside Granton.
“We reached out to various contacts, and local MSPs Ben Macpherson and Alison Johnstone, as well as many members of the public, offered their support too – which we are obviously very grateful for.”
He added: “We really wanted to be in Scotland to launch our major campaign against ocean plastic pollution.
“Scotland was ahead of the curve on the plastic bag charge and can lead on stemming the tide of plastic bottles entering our oceans too.
“We know from polling we’ve commissioned that the Scottish public are concerned about the level of plastic litter entering the sea, and its effect on wildlife.”
A spokeswoman from Forth Ports said: “Greenpeace have accepted the offer of an anchorage in the River Forth and their vessel, the Esperanza, is now moored in the Forth Estuary off Granton Harbour.
“The Port of Leith is one of Scotland’s busiest ports and currently has no berths available for a vessel of this size.”