WMU Journal of Maritime Affairs

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 193–204 | Cite as

Monitoring long-term environmental change: Some lessons from Sullom Voe, Shetland Islands

  • William Ritchie


The impact on the marine environment of the operation of the Sullom Voe Oil Terminal and its major port facility in the Shetland Islands has been monitored continuously for more than twenty-five years. The site of this very large terminal straddles a peninsula and the separation of the impact of the port on the sheltered west side (Sullom Voe) and the aqueous discharge from the terminal to the east, into the strong tidal current of Yell Sound, has proven to be advantageous. There are two types of monitoring, statutory (to comply with relevant legislation) and voluntary (to establish good practice and to examine a wider range of impacts e.g. island-wide ornithology). The latter function is undertaken by an independent advisory committee (SOTEAG). Over time, the nature and amount of voluntary monitoring has decreased in response to the long term evidence that both terminal and port operations are having little or no impact on a wide range of habitats and species. Voluntary monitoring also acts as an independent check on both compliance and other forms of environmental assessment. Although the terminal is now operating at less than half its peak capacity, this does not mean that there has been apro-rata decrease in monitoring activity.


coastal and port monitoring Sullom Voe oil terminal environmental management Shetland Islands 


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Copyright information

© World Maritime University 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Ritchie
    • 1
  1. 1.Aberdeen Institute for Coastal Science & ManagementUniversity of AberdeenScotland

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