Southwold – tankers to stay
Ship-to-ship (STS) oil transfers will be allowed to continue off the UK’s Suffolk coast.
UK Shipping Minister Mike Penning said the Sole Bay area, off Southwold, was the best place for ship-to-ship transfers in UK waters – despite severe opposition from local residents and the tourism industry.
STS tanker transfers, many of which have sailed from the Baltic Sea ports, to load larger vessels anchored off the coast, have been taking place for years, but this practice was due to be outlawed by the previous Labour Government.
That legislation was overturned by the new UK Coalition Government – following an Early Day Motion signed by Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey and Waveney MP Peter Aldous – and plans were announced at the end of last year to limit the practice to Sole Bay.
Penning announced to the House of Commons this week that the transfers would continue to take place off Southwold, under strict conditions.
“Having taken account of all the representations made, both in the main review and in the extension of the review in February and March, I have again come to the conclusion that this is the appropriate course of action,” he said.
“The recognition of these waters off the Suffolk coast as a suitable area for carrying out ship-to-ship transfers is based on the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s and the industry’s actual experience of the successful use of these waters for ship-to-ship transfer operations over a number of years without pollution of the seas and coasts,” he concluded.
In 2009, the Lowestoft and surrounding area’s economy was boosted by an estimated 5 mill, as local marine companies serviced the tankers, while their crews visited and stayed in local towns.
Local Waveney MP Peter Aldous said: “The industry is highly regulated and monitored with an excellent safety record and as an MP representing a working port, I cannot favour banning a practice that has been taking place off our coast for years, jeopardising local jobs in the process, without good evidence.”
Source: Tanker Operator