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Transfer legislation already under way

PUBLISHED: 09:41 04 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:30 06 July 2010

RATHER sceptical of the claims made by the MPs Gummer and Blizzard that Ship to Ship Transfers (STST) off the UK coast will be totally banned by the end of December 2009, I have investigated the background to these statements.

RATHER sceptical of the claims made by the MPs Gummer and Blizzard that Ship to Ship Transfers (STST) off the UK coast will be totally banned by the end of December 2009, I have investigated the background to these statements.

The MPs must be fully aware that a consultation process on the status of STST was carried out by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) in 2008.

The purpose of the consultation document was to solicit the opinions of various bodies having an interest in the subject. The list includes harbour authorities, environmental organisations and ship operators. I have not seen any reference to Blizzard and Gummer in this consultation process.

The information on the consultation may be found on the MCA website under Impact Assessment of The Merchant Shipping (Ship to Ship Operations) Regulations 2008.

Subsequent to the consultation, draft regulations (Marine Pollution - Merchant Shipping (STST)Regulations 2008) were produced for presentation to Parliament in early 2010. These regulations do not seek to ban STS operations; the purpose being to exercise effective control of STST.

This is a nine-page document that sets out reasonable criteria for the control of STST operations. (Also available on the MCA website).

In brief, the regulations require that STST operations must be carried out within harbour authority limits after that authority has carried out impact assessments.

The application to allow transfers in Outer Port Limits (OPL) must be submitted to the Secretary of State who will consider the assessment and any likely impacts such transfers may have on the environment.

It does rather seem that the MPs are claiming credit for the proposed legislation, when in fact the process was well underway before they responded to alleged concerns of their constituents.

Regardless of the relationship between Mr Gummer and Lord Adonis, it will not be over by Christmas; in fact, it will not be over at all!

T M TRELAWNY GOWER

Windsor Road

Lowestoft


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