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New calls on oil transfers

PUBLISHED: 11:31 06 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:06 06 July 2010

FRESH calls have been made for the Government to reconsider banning ship to ship oil transfers in British waters.

In recent months up to 30 tankers have been anchored off the Suffolk coast between Lowestoft and Southwold.

FRESH calls have been made for the Government to reconsider banning ship to ship oil transfers in British waters.

In recent months up to 30 tankers have been anchored off the Suffolk coast between Lowestoft and Southwold.

After pressure from environmentalists and local MPs, including Bob Blizzard from Waveney and Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer, the Government is preparing to ban such transfers in UK territorial waters.

However, there have also been calls to allow the transfers to continue as the industry has an impressive safety record and also boosts the local economy.

Derek Cook, of Gorleston, has listened to the arguments both for and against the ship to ship transfers and has also contacted officials at Tor Bay where tankers are also anchored.

Mr Cook wrote to Captain Kevin Mowat, harbour master at Tor Bay, to find his experiences of the tankers and was surprised by his response.

Capt Mowat said that since September last year there had been anything between six and 14 tankers at anchor in the area.

“I have worked as a harbour master in Tor Bay for over 18 years and during that period oil tankers have often used Lyme Bay, although not in such numbers as they are now, but throughout that time they have had a faultless safety record,” he said.

“Currently the ships are not engaged in any cargo transfer operations although they have in the past.

“Torbay Council has previously taken the view that a greater risk exists if oil transfer operations are forced beyond the 12-mile limit and therefore outside the control of the UK authorities,” said Capt Mowat.

Mr Cook believes that local authorities in East Anglia should learn from the experiences of their colleagues on the south coast and the Government may have to rethink its banning proposals.

“Some further discussion may be necessary to prevent us finishing up with 30 ships parked 12.5 miles out from our beaches, outside the control of the UK authorities, with business lost and risks increased,” said Mr Cook.


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