Campaigners protesting against plans for ship-to-ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth have been backed by best-selling author Ian Rankin.
The Rebus creator joined activists at a rally outside the Scottish Parliament yesterday.
Campaigners fear an oil spill in the area, at the mouth of the Cromarty Firth, would be catastrophic for the environmentally-sensitive waters – home to bottlenose dophins, minke whales and porpoises.
The applicant, the Port of Cromarty Firth, insists safeguards are in place and that it takes its environmental responsibilities “extremely seriously”.
Mr Rankin, who lives in Merchiston, said: “I’ve been holidaying in Cromarty for several years and I’ve got a house up there, so I know that area of Scotland very well.
“The Cromarty Firth would be a terrible place for an accident to happen and it only takes one accident. You can be safe 99.9 per cent of the time but one accident is enough to destroy everything that’s there.
“It’s such a rich, biodiverse area and, of course, tourism is the lifeblood. If one thing went wrong, it would be hellish.”
Groups such as Marine Connection and Cromarty Rising attended the rally. Similar plans for ship-to-ship transfers in the Firth of Forth ended with Forth Ports dropping their proposals in 2008 following a campaign.