§ 2. Mr. Atkinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what information he has on the extent of oil deposits in Poole bay and the Solent; and what special measures he expects to be taken to protect this coast line when these fields are developed.
§ The Minister of State, Department of Energy (Mr. Peter Morrison)
There are no proven oil deposits in the Solent.
Results from recent drilling suggest that the Wytch farm oilfield extends offshore to the south-east of Poole harbour. Before approving any proposals for further development I shall continue to want to be satisfied that the right measures are taken to protect the environment, as they have been thus far.
§ Mr. Atkinson
I thank my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for the close interest that he has taken in this matter and I especially thank my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for his visit to the area last Friday together with my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill). Does my right hon. Friend agree that Poole harbour is one of this country's most popular and attractive leisure and recreational areas 2 on which tens of thousand of jobs in tourism depend? Notwithstanding British Petroleum's expertise and excellent record on environmental protection, what plans does my right hon. Friend have to protect our beaches from any oil spillages that may take place?
§ Mr. Morrison
I agree with my hon. Friend that the area which he and my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) represent is attractive and brings in a lot of money due to its tourist value. With regard to oil spillages, the normal considerations apply in terms of any approval given for exploration and development.
§ Mr. Barry Field
Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that there are some misgivings about solfire and aerial spraying to deal with oil spill problems? Will my right hon. Friend consider two excellent products manufactured in my constituency—the frogmat boom and the vikona skimmer—which have proved to be considerably more effective in dealing with oil spills?
§ Mr. Morrison
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for drawing my attention to the excellent products manufactured in his constituency. I assure him that the best type of equipment would be used in what I hope is the unlikely event of any oil spillage.