MPs under fire over ship transfers
A MARINE surveyor from Lowestoft has criticised local MPs for their opposition to ship to ship transfers off the north Suffolk coast.In recent months more than 30 tankers at a time have been anchored off the coast between Lowestoft and Southwold but after pressure from environmentalists and local MPs the Government is preparing to ban ship to ship oil transfers in UK territorial waters.
A MARINE surveyor from Lowestoft has criticised local MPs for their opposition to ship to ship transfers off the north Suffolk coast.
In recent months more than 30 tankers at a time have been anchored off the coast between Lowestoft and Southwold but after pressure from environmentalists and local MPs the Government is preparing to ban ship to ship oil transfers in UK territorial waters.
Although the industry has an impressive safety record and is also boosting the local economy there are fears that a leak or spillage could devastate the vital tourism business in the Waveney area.
Terry Trelawny Gower, a marine surveyor based in Lowestoft, said: 'I find it rather disappointing that as a result of a number of objections to these offshore activities the calls for a total ban has reached a crescendo.'
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Mr Trelawny Gower said MPs John Gummer and Bob Blizzard, along with other objectors, have no understanding of the strict controls and monitoring procedures that ship officers are required to undertake prior to and during such operations.
'It is not like visiting a gas station to fill up the car; simply a matter of poking a hose into a tank and staring into the distance.
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'I will not list the checks that need to be made prior to commencing and during the discharge; however, there are more than 25 specific items,' he said.
Personnel on the tankers are fully trained and detailed to a specific action in the event of an emergency and there should be a pollution response vessel on location that could easily deal with a pollution incident.
'Any pipe spillage is not going to be of the magnitude of a dual tanker collision or a grounding causing hull penetration,' said Mr Trelawny Gower.
While understanding Mr Gummer's support for a ban, as he represents the Southwold area, Mr Trelawny Gower is surprised that Mr Blizzard is also giving his backing to a ban.
'Unlike Mr Gummer, Bob Blizzard does represent an area of significant social and economic deprivation, and should think carefully about the impact of the loss of local revenues. The proposed cessation of STS offshore operations will force vessels into ports. Lowestoft will gain absolutely nothing from this, merely an increase in unemployment,' claimed Mr Trelawny Gower.
'I understand that an emotive objection to a perceived environmental problem would achieve, in legal terms, absolutely nothing. Hard scientific fact is required,' he said.
Meanwhile, James Reeder, vice-president of the Lowestoft and Waveney Chamber of Commerce, is going ahead with plans to hold a public meeting in Lowestoft on the ship to ship oil transfers so that people can have an understanding of the business.