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Last Updated: Monday, 3 December 2007, 16:40 GMT
MP moves to control oil transfers
Oil worker - generic
The Commons will hear calls for tighter transfer regulations
A bill which aims to simplify the law surrounding ship-to-ship oil transfers is to be introduced at Westminster.

If the move, by Edinburgh North and Leith MP Mark Lazarowicz, is successful then constraints would be imposed on the transfer of hazardous material.

New powers enabling Scottish ministers to freeze controversial plans for transfers in the Forth were approved at Holyrood earlier this year.

The Private Members' Bill will be formally presented on Wednesday.

In the past, transfer plans in the Firth of Forth have met with fierce opposition from local councils, residents and environment groups.

They would see 7.8 million tonnes of Russian crude pumped each year between tankers anchored four miles off the coast.

I know this is an issue which the UK Government have been consulting on and I hope the government will give this bill a positive response
Mark Lazarowicz
Edinburgh North and Leith MP

Mr Lazarowicz said: "The recent controversy surrounding proposed ship-to-ship oil transfers in the Firth of Forth has highlighted the need for more effective regulation of ship-to-ship transfers.

"My bill aims to ensure that the whole marine environment is protected from this practice and that ship-to-ship transfers are carried out where they can be done safely.

"I know this is an issue which the UK Government have been consulting on and I hope the government will give this bill a positive response".

The Environmental Protection (Transfers at Sea) Bill is supported by RSPB Scotland and could become law if it receives backing from the UK Government and opposition MPs.

Cross-party support

It is expected that the Labour MP's bill will be debated some time in the New Year.

Lloyd Austin, head of conservation policy at RSPB Scotland, said ship-to-ship transfers should only be carried out in areas where the correct infrastructure and pollution prevention measures are in place.

He said: "A move this summer in the Scottish Parliament to allow the Scottish Government to scrutinise potentially damaging actions in sites protected for wildlife was welcome and attracted cross-party support.

"However, that doesn't go far enough. What's needed is Westminster legislation of this type to ensure the whole marine environment is protected, and we hope that this bill also gets the wide cross-party support that it deserves.

"In the longer term, the RSPB fully support developments such as this being managed through a system of marine spatial planning being proposed in both UK and Scottish marine bills, and we would encourage both MPs and MSPs to progress this wider legislation as soon as possible."

SEE ALSO
MSPs approve oil transfer control
28 Jun 07 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Powers could block oil transfer
24 Jun 07 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Call to halt oil transfer plans
24 May 07 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Oil transfer 'breaches directive'
11 May 07 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife

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