HC Deb 21 June 1966 vol 730 c258
6. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Minister of Power if he will state the terms of the licences granted by him to persons or companies drilling for oil or gas in the North Sea relating to laying by them of oil and gas mains designed to carry oil and gas ashore, indicating the nature and foundations of the bed of such mains, their depth beneath the sea and provisions to protect shipping and fishing gear from danger caused thereby.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power (Dr. Jeremy Bray)

These licences contain no terms relating specifically to the laying of oil and gas mains but do require that the licensee shall not carry out any operations in such manner as to interfere unjustifiably with navigation or fishing. Licensees must also comply with the provisions of the Coast Protection Act, 1949, and, for pipelines within territorial waters, with the provisions of the Pipelines Act, 1962. The pipeline to be laid for the British Petroleum Company will be buried at depths of between 4 and 10 ft. below the sea bed.

Mr. Hughes

Does the Minister realise that fish are sensitive and fastidious creatures? These novel oil rigs are in use and it would be a disaster, not only for the fishing industry but also for the fish-consuming public, if fish were driven from the North Sea in shoals. Does he not agree, therefore, that it is his duty to adopt protective measures in order to ensure that that does not occur?

Dr. Bray

My hon. and learned Friend will be reassured to hear that the problem seems to be to keep fish away from the oil rigs. Whether social or economic factors attract them, I am not altogether clear.