HC Deb 14 February 1973 vol 850 cc1263-4
8. Mr. Douglas

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions he has had with local authorities regarding the siting of oil refineries.

The Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Geoffrey Rippon)

I have not entered into discussions with local authorities on the siting of refineries but I have recently sent them a note guidance on the factors which commonly need to be taken into account. This should help authorities in giving advice to companies inquiring about potential sites for refineries which could be to national and local advantage.

Mr. Douglas

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept that his guidance does not go far enough? There is a serious deficiency, in that it does not require companies to undertake an impact survey of the results of refineries on the environment? Will he have consultations with the Secretary of State for Scotland and, with him, offer such advice to local authorities and companies which might be contemplating the siting of new refineries?

Mr. Rippon

I keep in touch with all my right hon. Friends in other Departments who are concerned about this matter. In dealing with a particular case the question of the environment is of manifest importance.

Sir Bernard Braine

In this connection, is my right hon. and learned Friend aware of the determined opposition of local authorities in South-East Essex to proposals for additional oil refineries alongside residential populations? Will he note that this is a classical example of the matter raised by the hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Douglas), namely, the need to consider the total impact of planning decisions on the environment of people who are already under savage assault?

Mr. Rippon

I am glad to reassure my hon. Friend about that. There is no talk or possibility of oil refineries in connection with the Maplin airport development. I explained in the debate last week that approval in principle had been given by the Government to the concept of a port and oil terminal, but the Port of London Authority has to make proposals, which have to be considered under the Harbours Act. My predecessor made clear that there would not be primary industry development in connection with Maplin—and that includes oil refineries.