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Tanker ban sounds like spin

PUBLISHED: 12:24 09 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:35 06 July 2010

LAST week Waveney MP Bob Blizzard announced that next spring the government will introduce a new law banning ship to ship oil transfers off the Suffolk coast.

LAST week Waveney MP Bob Blizzard announced that next spring the government will introduce a new law banning ship to ship oil transfers off the Suffolk coast.

It is welcome that Mr Blizzard has finally said something on this issue.

However, as there are only five weeks between the start of spring and the very last date on which Parliament must be dissolved for a general election, there is no realistic possibility of any law introduced then becoming law. It is therefore hard to see this government announcement as being anything other than what is commonly called “spin”.

These oil transfers have already been banned off the Dorset coast and the shipping minister could ban them here next week if he chose to do so.

Journal readers may be interested to know that in the meantime the equipment for containing any oil spill is kept by the government at three locations: Milford Haven in South Wales, Huddersfield in West Yorkshire and Perth in Scotland.

As such, with tankers anchored only a few miles off Kessingland and Southwold there is no realistic possibility of any oil spill being contained before it reached our beaches.

I have written to the Shipping Minister twice raising this issue since August but so far have not received any reply.

The majority of the north Suffolk coastline, where these oil transfers take place, is both a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). Those of us living on the coast are simply baffled as to why the government is allowing the transfer of Russian oil to tankers bound for other countries to threaten both our beautiful coastline and our local tourism business which brings more than £65m to the local economy and supports one in eight local jobs.

Dr MARTIN PARSONS

Drury Close

Kessingland

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