HL Deb 09 June 1971 vol 320 cc261-82

6.59 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, that the Bill be now read 2a.— (The Earl of Listowel.)


My Lords, I should like to say a few words on the Second Reading of this Bill. In my view it is a very important Bill, and it is not one that ought to go to a Committee at all; but in the event that it does go, it ought to go with a definite indication of the views of this House. Anglesey is a small island in the North West of Wales, some 270 square miles in area, and thus one of the small counties of Wales and the United Kingdom. It has a population of some 60,000. Its main industries are agriculture and holidays. The holiday industry is becoming very popular, and it has an expanding income which last year was computed at 7 million. Those of your Lordships who have been there will know that it is an island of great beauty with a mild climate, and with sea shores at Amlwch and elsewhere. I particularly stress Amlwch, the little fishing town and holiday port, with a great attraction to many people, not only from Wales but also from England. Noble Lords who are not Welsh will not know that Anglesey has a very special place in Wales. It is in fact what we call Mon Mam Cymru—the "Mother of Wales"—because from there came a great deal of the one-time culture: I will not say the present way of life, but the way of life at the time. It was in Anglesey that the Druids made their last stand when they were wiped out by the Romans, who objected to them because, it was alleged, they ran the "resistance movement", not only in Wales but also in Northern Europe— particularly in France and Belgium— where Celts were situated. Whether they did or not, the Romans, like many other occupying Powers, in order to justify their aggression had to wipe out any part of the local population which was felt to be a danger to them. Unfortunately, this tendency did not end with the Romans. We have seen, only too obviously, that it still exists at the present time; not only in Europe but also in the East.

Perhaps what is more interesting to your Lordships is that from Anglesey came that great race of Monarchs, the Tudors; the three Monarchs, Henry VII, Henry VIII and Elizabeth, about whom we have seen so much on television lately. They brought England, kicking and screaming, out of the Middle Ages into the modern world. In my view, to them more than to any other Monarchs we owe the greatness of this country. I refer not only to our past greatness but also to the present and future greatness; because we are only in the middle of the stream. We are still a great country. In spite of everything that is said about it. Britain, in my view, is the greatest country in the world. I have lived in a large number of countries and this is the only one where I would wish to live.

To this little island of Anglesey, as to other parts of rural Wales, come large numbers from the North-East of England, from the Midlands, and indeed from all over the world. They come for rest, refreshment and re-creation—I stress the word "re-creation"—as well as recreation. It is so necessary in these days when there is precious little rest or recreation anywhere else. The object of the Bill is stated in the Preamble and in the Long Title. If I may read the Long Title, I think it sets out the position fairly well. It states that this is An Act to provide for the vesting in the Anglesey County Council of the harbour undertaking of the Amlwch Urban District Council; to authorise the said county council and Shell U.K. Limited to construct works and acquire lands; to confer powers on the said county council with reference to the undertaking vested in them or authorised by this Act … and that in fact is what it does. It provides: For the safely of navigation and the efficient and economic importation of such crude oil and petroleum products … and in order to do so, the Bill states: it is expedient to authorise the construction of a marine terminal off the north coast of Anglesey to accommodate vessels (including large tankers)"— I wish your Lordships especially to note that— and to receive and convey to and from such vessels such oil and products and in connection with and as part of such terminal the construction of breakwaters and other works in the harbour of Amlwch. So in this little seaside town, this little port where the main traffic is holiday traffic, with people bathing, fishing and going out in little boats, there is to be planted down on it this enormous oil terminal with large tankers; that is the object of the Bill.

When Private Bills come before your Lordships' House—and I have dealt with many during the 20 years or more that I have been here—one is told one of two things. On Second Reading one is always told. "You must not say anything about the Bill because it is to be considered in Committee." On Third Reading one is always told." You must not say anything about the Bill because it has been considered in Committee." And so one cannot win. In the normal way that is all right and I do not object—although I may say that I have objected from time to time. But I think it is reasonable, because when it is a matter of detail, a question whether a road should be on this or that side of a valley or something like that, it is a matter for a Committee to decide. But when it is a matter of great principle it is, to my mind, for the House to decide and not a Committee. This is a matter of outstanding principle; that is to say it is, as I have described, a question whether, in this little rural area, there is to be a vast marine terminal with large tankers. I say that that is not a matter to be decided by a Committee; it is a matter for your Lordships' House.

Why do I object to this proposal? First, because in my view, and surely in the view of every noble Lord, these works are bound to be seriously detrimental to the holiday and tourist industry. Secondly, they would grievously affect the amenities that I have mentioned, such as yachting and bathing. Thirdly. they would, irretrievably and irreversibly, destroy the quality of the nearby coastline—all the little bays and beautiful stretches of sand around that part of the coast where people may take their families. I think this is too big a decision and responsibility for a small council.

As I have said, my Lords, the population of Anglesey is only 60.000. Soon, and whichever Government are in power, Anglesey will cease to exist as a County Council because both Government and Opposition have decided that Anglesey shall be part of Gwynedd, a much larger area; in fact it will be one of five districts in Gwynedd. It is likely that Gwynedd, the new and much larger authority, will take—or certainly some of them will—an entirely different view. I do not think for one moment that they will agree to this. But whether they do or not, if this Bill becomes law they will not have the opportunity of objecting. It is Government policy that county councils like Anglesey are not big enough to carry out these duties. That is why they are merging Anglesey with a number of other counties to create this large new county. But what is most important of all—I hope this will appeal to your Lordships; it certainly appeals to me—is that, with the increasing industrialisation and urbanisation of England—I stress "England"—and to a lesser extent industrial Wales; the bit in the North East corner and South Wales, we must have some parts of the Island—I mean the Island of Britain —which are entirely different from the urbanised and industrial areas. That is the strongest point of all that I would make, and I seriously press this on your Lordships and on the Government.

Anglesey is not in Mid-Wales but it is nearby; and the present population of Mid-Wales is smaller now, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, than it was in the time of Elizabeth I. Other than during the tourist season, you can go for mile after mile and see not a house, or car, or a man, or a dog. Where else can you do that? It is an area of great beauty, which we ought not to lose. People from the Midlands, the industrial North and London come there to see the country as it was before industrialisation. I am not suggesting that everybody in Wales will agree with what I am saying— they never do anyway—but this is a vital point. Recently I put a question to the Government on the proposals for mineral prospecting in the Snowdonia National Park by United Kingdom, South African and Canadian companies. There is also a suggestion to erect a great marine barrage near Barmouth, where they want to dredge for minerals. Where is it going to end'? Where are people to go to see Britain as it used to be, if we are to have these industrial works in our beauty spots and National Parks? I remember the discussions when the National Parks were set up, and at that time we never assumed that this sort of thing was going to happen.

This is not just a problem of Wales. The House, on January 31, 1968, rejected on Second Reading my Bill for a domestic Parliament; therefore it is the duty of this House to decide what is best for Anglesey and for Wales—and for the residents in and visitors to Anglesey, because I am not making this a nationalist plea, I am looking at it from the point of view of both England and Wales and also from the point of view of visitors to our shores from overseas. The proposals in this Bill have aroused a storm of protest and a Petition has been signed by no fewer than 17 opponents of the Bill, including the Council for the Protection of Rural Wales. the North Wales Naturalist Trust, the Anglesey Residents' Association, the Amlwch and District Residents' Association, the Wildfowlers' Association, the Amlwch Chamber of Trade, the Llandudno Chamber of Trade, the Welsh Yachting Association, the Holyhead and District Angling Club and many hotel and restaurant owners and others—I have not mentioned them all by any means—all of whom feel that this is an attack on the interests of this part of the world.

This Government have made their position quite clear. In Command Paper No. 4506, The Reorganisation of Central Government, in paragraph 31. they say: Accordingly, the Ministries of Housing and Local Government, of Public Building and Works and of Transport will be unified in a single Department of the Environment under a Secretary of State. Except in Scotland and Wales, where the Scottish and Welsh Offices will continue to play the major part, the new Department will be responsible for the whole range of functions which affect people's living environment. It will cover the planning of land—where people live, work, move and enjoy themselves. It will be responsible for the construction industries, including the housing programme, and for the transport industries, including public programmes of support and development for the means of transport. There is a need to associate with these functions responsibility for other major environmental matters: the preservation of amenity, the protection of the coast and countryside, the preservation of historic towns and monuments, and the control of air, water and noise pollution: all of which must be pursued locally, regionally, nationally and in some cases internationally. Those are brave words, but I want the Government to put them into force. It is all very well to put them in a declaration of Government intention. Anybody can intend anything. What we want is that the Government should carry them out.

What must Parliament and the Government decide? I think they must decide how Wales, other than the industrial South and the North-East, must be treated. Up to now, successive Governments have tried to cajole industry into Wales by offering them expensive carrots in order to settle there. This must now cease. In the comparatively vast area of rural Wales no more industries should be maintained except those that are already there and the tourist and holiday industries. Local authorities, instead of being badgered by the Government to attract industries, should be instructed—or badgered—by the Government not to maintain industry and should be compensated for having to refuse industries, if any should want to go to their areas, which is unlikely. I am speaking of rural Wales but I know that exactly the same problems are to be found in Cumberland and Westmorland, in Cornwall and in Devon—in the Western parts of the country, in what were the old Celtic areas. It is only in this way, by stopping industrialisation, that we shall retain some part of our country in a state of natural beauty, free from industrial slums and subtopia. Once there are these extensive works in an area, the beauty of it is gone for ever and we can never put it back. I could take your Lordships to many places in South Wales which I have seen destroyed in my own lifetime. I could take you to Lord Aberdare's own part of South Wales, which is still a lovely spot but not so lovely now as it was in my young days.

I would refer particularly to Swansea, because many eminent people, including His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, have referred to it. At the end of the 18th century it was intended to make Swansea a beauty spot, a watering place, because it was so lovely, set in Swansea Bay with the rivers coming down from the mountains. Instead of that they industrialised Swansea, especially out towards Morriston to the East and now nothing grows there. Nothing has grown there for a hundred years. Swansea College, of the University of Wales, has made experiments to restore the area and has had some slight success, but it is still a sort of moon landscape. That is what I say we are going to have if we let this Bill go through and it is something we cannot afterwards reverse. Once a rural area has become industrialised, its beauty is gone for ever and nothing will restore it. That is all I intend to say, my Lords. I feel that the time for platitudes, bromides and waffling is past. What we want from the Government and from Parliament, if they mean what they say about this environment problem, is "Action this day"—now.

7.20 p.m.


My Lords, I shall be very brief. Despite what the noble Lord. Lord Ogmore, has so eloquently said, I hope that your Lordships will give this Bill a Second Reading in the knowledge that it will go to a Select Committee and, if passed by that Committee, will return to this House and go through various other stages, and indeed through the Parliamentary procedures in another place. However, this being a Bill which is sponsored by the county council in conjunction with a very major oil company, I think we should go through our normal procedures and refer it to the Select Committee in the normal way.

Perhaps the most useful thing I could do would be to fill in the picture in so far as it goes beyond the Bill itself. I would like to make two points. The first is that the Shell Company have submitted to the local planning authority two applications for planning permission. One is for the construction of a tank farm and transfer pumping facilities at Rhyd y Gwyn, Rhosgoch, and the second is for the construction of facilities for the reception of submarine pipelines, booster facilities, associated tanks and equipment at Amlwch Port. These applications were referred to the Secretary of State by the planning authority, as they are substantially out of accord with the approved development plan, and as they affect the whole of the neighbourhood the Secretary of State has called them in and decided that a public local inquiry should be held before he makes a final decision. The arrangements for that public inquiry are now in hand. The second point worth adding is that the Shell Company also propose that from the tank farm they will lay pipelines for some seventy-five miles, going under the Menai Strait to Stanlow. The actual route will have to be surveyed and negotiated with landowners and other interested parties, and it will be subject to the procedures laid down in the Pipelines Act 1962 which is administered by the Department of Trade and Industry.

Therefore the picture I would like to leave with your Lordships is three-fold. First of all there is the Bill, which deals principally with the offshore works; there are the two planning applications; and there is the pipleline to Stanlow. All these are separate parts of one main proposal and they are subject to separate procedures. Each of them is going through the appropriate routine, and it would not be right for me to comment on their respective merits. The Government is naturally fully aware of the conflicting interests involved, but we feel the proper procedures are there and should be followed, giving an opportunity for all sides to be heard before final decisions are made.

7.24 p.m.


My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for adding to the information to be gathered from reading the Bill or from looking at the deposited plans, which I hope all noble Lords will have looked at. What he has said confirms my feeling that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, is right and that this Bill contains a great deal which is really too important for us just to say, "These are Committee matters and we will let them go through on the nod, because a Committee will consider them." There are great considerations here which I think we, as a House, ought to consider, and hope that if we give the Bill a Second Reading the Committee will have regard to what is said here this evening.

The first point that struck me concerned the large number and the very wide range of objectors. The objectors are not just small groups and societies who might be expected to be opposed to any form of change. On the contrary, there are two chambers of trade; there are strong tourist interests, which one might suppose would he attracted by the idea of such additional business as might come from a development of this kind; and there are also natural history and conservation societies. I was interested to see the objections from the two societies with hotel interests, because I am president of a regional tourist board in another area and I know that these objections are not put in without good reason. In addition, some years ago I used to know Angelsey well, and particularly this corner of it, Amlwch.

The second reason why I feel we should look closely at this Bill is that when a small local authority is teamed with a large public company, no matter how high the reputation of that company may stand, we should look closely at what is proposed in order to check that, as time goes by, the public authority will remain the master in its own house and will not become the weaker partner. In such cases our local authorities are notoriously bad judges in their own cause, and they are often at a disadvantage. Councillors become excited at the idea of developments on a large scale. They think in terms of greatly increased rateable values and feel that something is at last going to happen in their distant neighbourhood; while their officials tend to become even more excited. But most of them have had little experience of industrial development. It can well be that they have in the short term the prospect of some advantages which, as the years go by, will be outweighed by the far larger advantages accruing to their partner from the industrial venture. I am not accusing anybody of doing anything underhand or dishonourable: this is just part of the facts of life. Hence, I think we should look most carefully at these proposals, because in the end a public company of the size, nature and scope of that which we are considering here has resources which are far greater, and an influence which is far stronger and wider, than that of the council of any small county.

My third point refers to planning. Much of our coastline has already been spoilt for all time, and what is left is surely precious. I had hoped that, even though this process of spoiling the coastline was still going on in some countries abroad—notably Italy—we had checked it here. If planning means anything at all, it means establishing great installations of this kind near other industrial development and away from areas where it is bound to be the dominating feature of a stretch of coastline which at present is entirely different in character. If I remember rightly, this coast is important to the tourist trade, which is probably the biggest industry in the area. The coast is also important from the point of view of conservation, and although Conservation Year is now over, that surely does not mean we should forget it. Further, this part of the coastline would seem to be where we should think of establishing smaller-scale industries more appropriate to the population and scale of the neighbourhood.

I do not know what the Shell Company's reasons are—it could be the deep water—but perhaps the noble Lord, speaking for the Promoters, will tell us. Certainly I think that we should be given some explanation. I say that in the knowledge that there are other places along our West Coast where old-established industries on a big scale are now shrinking and where there is hence substantial unemployment, so that industry on this scale would be welcome. Why has this particular area been chosen? The development proposed is apparently unwelcome to many people, even though not unwelcome to the county council. It would indeed be welcome elsewhere. I can only speak for the area of England that I know best. Barrow-in-Furness is a place where an installation of this sort might be welcome. There is the small town of Millom a little further up the coast, and there is Whitehaven, and also Workington. I deserve to be told why it is necessary for an installation of this kind to go to an area where it is entirely out of character when there are industrial areas in the North-West where some development of this sort would be welcome.

7.30 p.m.


My Lords, originally I did not intend to speak in this debate, but as I am possibly the only Member of this House who lives in Anglesey I felt bound to say a few words in view of my personal knowledge of the island. I have known Anglesey since about 1910 when I first used to go there as a small boy, so I know it pretty well. I now have a house, which I had built not long ago, within 50 yards of the sea, and it will be within five miles of this new terminal. If anything goes wrong with the oil of that terminal, the strong currents which run along there will no doubt mean that I shall be smothered in oil. That is what I have to face. That coastline used to be rather like the Mediterranean. You go along its cliffs, 50 feet to 150 feet high, and look straight down into clean, pure sea-water, because there is a strong current and the water is very deep: incidentally, that is why the terminal is going there.

Unfortunately, there has been a series of developments along that coast. The North coast is divided between these rocky stretches and pleasant bays, and on the other side of the island there is an area of nothing but sand dunes. It is within full sight of Snowdonia. The tourist has a bit of everything—the sea for sailing, Snowdonia for climbing and so on—and it is an area where tourists should be able to stay and enjoy themselves. Instead of that, first of all along came a factory connected with rubber. That was close to the Menai Strait. The smell from that factory is well-known for up to ten miles away. Not far from where the oil terminal will be there is a high octane spirit factory. That is dependent upon good clean sea-water from which to extract the chemicals required, and the owners at least will keep the water clean. But, unfortunately, again this produces an unpleasant odour. So it goes on all along the coast.

Recently the county council, partly due to unemployment difficulties, admitted an atomic station, which is progressing rapidly. There are dangers again over a fairly large area. Then, not far away from the atomic station they have put an aluminium works. So your Lordships can see that the county has been more and more encroached upon, and I feel it is time to stop it. If an oil terminal is required we should at least be assured that other places have been looked at. I am not qualified to say what places, and I cannot make any suggestions. I think that covers all that I have to say, other than to express the hope that during the course of the passage of this Bill all the aspects of preservation will be considered.

7.35 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, asked just now that whoever spoke for the Promoters should answer various questions and give various explanations. I do not appear for the Promoters. I am speaking in this debate because I am generally interested in the issues raised by this matter, which I believe, in United Kingdom terms as well as regional development terms, we ought to treat with the greatest sympathy and, I would add, balance. Just as you cannot carve satisfactorily in butter, so I believe you need a measure of wellbeing to be able to afford the luxury of indefinite and unlimited amenity protection. What I would plead for is a regard for this matter with a sense of balance and perspective.

My real reason for intervening is that I believe that the deep waters off the coast of Britain offer a superb opportunity for the recovery of Britain's industrial prosperity in the future, without any damage whatsoever to amenity. I see the berthing of the very large crude carriers as offering in this country a means for keeping industrial fuel costs low by giving us the chance to make the most of the economies of scale which the very big tankers provide. That would give us a head start over our European competitors. It may not be generally known that the net price of motorists' petrol at the pump before duty to-day, despite the rise in crude oil prices thanks to the operations of the OPEC—the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries—is much the same to-day as it was in 1959, owing largely to improvement of techniques in producing and transporting it.

One-third of the oil tanker capacity now at sea is in the range above 100,000 tons displacement. Something like 520 ships in this class are now afloat, totalling more than 48 million tons out of a total of about 150 million tons of tankers altogether. More than 90 per cent. of the current tanker building is in the class above 100,000 tons. There are now 660 such ships on order, or being built, which total 65 million deadweight tons, out of total tanker orders throughout the world of 70 million tons. The expectation is that these ships are going up to half a million tons and even one million tons. I submit seriously to your Lordships' House, not least because this is the Parliament of Wales as well as of the United Kingdom, that we must look at this matter in the widest possible and most sober sense, bearing in mind that Britain alone in Western Europe has undredged deep water deep enough to attract these mammoths, thus enabling Britain to intercept the European bulk trades and to keep her basic industrial fuel costs below those of her European competitors.

It may not be generally known, but at the risk of telling some noble Lords something which they know already may I remind your Lordships that British demand for oil fuel, whether petroleum or crude, distilled in one way or another, is rising at 7 per cent. per annum, and it doubles every seven years. The very large crude carriers are the main hope of enabling us to satisfy this demand—and I beg your Lordships to pay careful attention to this point—without needing to encroach on a multiplicity of new refinery sites, on new virgin sites, with a fresh affront to amenity elsewhere.

There is a fashionable environmental litany in our day which is easy to make the most of. Somebody said: To make a name for learning "When other roads are barred " Take something very easy "And make it very hard. I sometimes wonder whether those who care so much for the countryside fully appreciate the problem that we are up against, unless of course we want to turn our industrial civilisation backwards. I sometimes think that people are using a quiverful of outdated concepts; that they are armed with bows and arrows in the atom age.

Noble Lords may well ask why I, from Scotland, speak about Wales. But this is not simply a parochial or regional matter. I regard the deep waters all around the West and North coasts of Britain as being valuable assets. I realise that those that are closest—and perhaps this answers Lord Boston's point—to the industrial markets of Britain are likely to come into use first. Objections by the Council for the Preservation of Rural Wales, and I believe also by the National Trust, can be thrashed out at the public inquiry later this summer or the autumn. The noble Lords, Lord Ogmore, Lord Boston and Lord Inglewood, seemed to speak with some confusion about what is proposed. The noble Lord, Lord Boston, saw his home and surroundings being smothered in oil. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, told of an enormous oil terminal with large tankers, a vast marine terminal—I quote his words. He said it would be something which would be bound to be detrimental to holidaymakers and tourism; something that would irretrievably destroy the nearby coastline. These were the words he used.


My Lords, may I say that I was not under any misapprehension at all. In view of what the noble Lord has just said I will quote from what is proposed. I did not say this in my speech because I did not want to talk for too long. As a necessary corollary to the marine terminal contained in the Bill (which is the main subject of this debate) it is, and I will quote: … proposed initially to construct adjacent to the harbour of Amlwch displacement, surge, and bunker fuel tanks the largest of which will be 46.50 metres in diameter and 18.50 metres in height, heaters with chimneys approximately 20 metres in height, an electrical substation and a radio mast approximately 30 metres in height, hereinafter called the shore installation ', and inland at Rhosgoch a tank farm, hereinafter called ' the tank farm ', which will consist inter alia of eight large crude oil storage tanks 78 metres in diameter and 22 metres in height, together with six smaller tanks 17 metres in height, the main pump-house, heaters with chimneys 20 metres in height, and smaller works including control equipment and electrical transformers". How do the bathing parties, yachts and so on, and the holidaymakers, fit into all that? That is what I should like to know.


My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Lord. Lord Ogmore, for spelling out what he has just spell: out. I wonder whether some time he would come with me to Finnart—



He has never heard of it, but it is on Loch Long and there is a marine terminal much more complicated than this, with greater tanks than are now proposed and greater pipelines than are now proposed. We will go there together, if the noble Lord will give me the pleasure of his company, and I will show him that by means of screening and sinking tanks partly underground it is possible to reduce what I will call the eye-sore menace to very limited proportions.


My Lords—


I have given way to the noble Lord, we have only a limited amount of time, there is a Committee ahead. So may I be allowed to continue? To describe these as extensive industrial works, and as industrialising a rural area, suggests that in one critical respect the noble Lord has not fully grasped all that is proposed. The terminal consists of what is called a single buoy mooring, that is, a buoy which physically is about as big the the Arundel Room of our Library. The buoy floats in the sea and only the top is visible. There is then a pipe which goes down from that, which is buried in the seabed, comes to the booster station, and is again buried all the way to Stanlow refinery on the Mersey. There is little that is visible. The buoy has a swivel top enabling the tanker to swing and head into the winds and tides to the best advantage, and it is not a very large undertaking.

My noble friend Lord Inglewood asked: can we know why this site has been chosen rather than others? I do not speak for the company, but my own observation is that this is the deepest water close to the industrial Midlands, and that is why it commends itself to the company; and as to planning, I am sure my noble friend Lord Inglewood will have studied the document, "The Planning of the Coastline" by the Countryside Commission, and will have seen the passages from paragraphs 184 to 189, which bear very largely on this problem. The document recognises that terminals of one form or another are desirable and can be managed perfectly reasonably. There has been a good deal of fear that the existence of these large ships would be a hazard and would lead—


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? I thank him for what he said about the deep water; I had guessed that, and he will understand that I am not against the developments that he spoke about. I am against putting them in places where people do not want them when there are more suitable places available. Could he say anything about the other industrialised sites on the West coast where an installation of this sort might be welcome?


My Lords, I cannot do so without notice, although I have given some time and trouble to the study of deep water sites and I am aware that there are a number ranging from Falmouth to the Severn, to the coast of Anglesey, the Lune Estuary in Lancashire, the West coast of the Lake District, and to the West, North and East coasts of Scotland. I frankly hope that proper use will be made of all of them in due time. Obviously it is for the entrepreneur to decide which of these is most suited to his needs.

I do not want to take more time than is necessary, but I want to point out first of all that this kind of undertaking should diminish the hazard of pollution which may well arise through collision in the crowded, narrow Mersey. The single-buoy mooring allows the ship to stay safely moored in all weathers, free to swing its full circle and to lie at all times in the best position for wind and tides; and if people object to the sight of a ship may I say that to the viewer the only difference between a very large crude oil carrier and any other ship is simply that the carrier is bigger. My observation is that tourists like looking at ships, and I have yet to meet one that does not. The smaller the tanker, the greater the risk, because its crew is inevitably less experienced; more crews are required for smaller tankers because there are more of them. Most accidents, for example in the Dover Straits, have occurred with the smaller tankers. The bigger the tanker, the more expert the crew is likely to be per volume of crude oil, and therefore the less the hazard.

There are more than 50 of these single-buoy moorings in the world and so far there has been no pollution from any of them. More than 16, I understand, are owned by the company in question—Shell. They have handled more than a thousand ships, more than 50 million tons of oil, for over seven or eight years without pollution. There is a settled blanking-off routine for the fuel hose after discharge, so that no dangers arise there. Two of the most knowledgeable local bodies, I understand, are satisfied; namely, the Mersey Pilots, whose advice led to a modest re-siting of this proposal, and who considered this an immense improvement, from a safety point of view, to bringing these big ships into the Mersey; and secondly, the Lancashire and Welsh Fisheries Joint Committee, who apparently also believe that this would be a great protection rather than a hazard to fishing.

There are those who say: why not dredge the Mersey deeper? The answer is that playing with Nature has a way of bringing you a "hit-back", as Rotterdam has found. The danger of navigating these big ships in the narrow waters is a very serious one. There are the objections by the urban district council of Amlwch. May I just call your Lordships' attention to one or two points in regard to Anglesey, which has a high unemployment rate at present, of between 8 and 9 per cent. This proposition would bring 35 to 40 permanent new jobs to the local people, about 20 or so maintaining the two launches and the S.B.M's. and about 15 to 20 on the tank farm. There would also be a slight spinoff in local services. All this would arise in a rural area whose population is less than 4,000, where the rateable value is less than £150,000 and where an old penny on the rates would not raise much more than £600. In addition, the company in question seem to have read the maxims of a favourite of mine, Lord Halifax, who in his Maxims of State wrote in the 17th century: A wise prince will not oblige his courtiers who are birds of prey, so as to disoblige his people who are beasts of burden ". The client company in this case, the applicants, Shell, eager to set people's minds at rest have made a very serious proposal which is to be found in Clause 50. They offer an ex-gratia payment of one new penny per ton of crude oil passing through this pipe per annum, offering Anglesey an eventual revenue in altogether new money of something like £250,000 per annum—this, when the rateable value of the county is not more than £1.5 million and an old penny on the rates there does not raise more than £6,500. The fund or the revenue would be under county council control as things are, and would be used—I quote from the Bill for the benefit of the Island and its (60,000) inhabitants. When this Bill goes to Committee, as I pray it will, I feel sure that all that has been said and objected to in this House will be considered by the Committee. All I would say, in wishing the Bill a fair wind, is that to refuse it would be a wilful waste of natural resources. And wilful waste, my Lords, makes woeful want.

7.53 p.m.


My Lords, I shall not detain your Lordships for any length of time because I appreciate that we have some ephemeral legislation coming a little later on. But what we are now discussing is more permanent legislation, namely, the landscape and the amenities of the Island of Anglesey. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, that this is a matter which will come back to this House and which we can discuss at a later stage, after the Bill has been fully examined by the Select Committee. On the other hand, I have some sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, in, as it were, giving notice to the Committee that this is a really important Bill.

I know that Select Committees are always conscientious in regard to their duties. Nevertheless, the proposals in this Bill have given rise to considerable concern in the Principality—partly, of course, because this is not the only project for some kind of industrial development in North Wales. I think all of us are deeply concerned about the proposals in respect of the Snowdonia National Park. That is quite a different proposition, and we must not confuse the two. Nevertheless, it adds to the apprehensions. This is a complex matter. As the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, explained, there is this Bill, but there are also the planning applications and matters concerning the pipeline. As I know well from my own experience as a Minister in the Welsh Office, this kind of multiple situation is difficult for those who are protesting, in all good faith, that they have to prepare material for the proceedings in Parliament as well as for the public inquiry, for planning and so on. It puts a great burden on the amenity societies when we, no doubt, for good constitutional reasons, have these multiple situations. I am not in any way blaming the Government for that, but I am making the point that it adds a great burden to societies which had to go through all this process for the Rio Tinto application in Anglesey. Also, as the noble Lord, Lord Boston, remarked, there is the Wylfa power station, and the Valley Airport, and so on. Therefore this proposal has to be looked at in the total complex of a very small and beautiful island. It has to be seen partly against the matter of scale.

I want to make clear to the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, that I am not opposing the Bill as such; it is too early to take a stand one way or the other until it has been fully examined. But I would ask him to bear in mind that there are matters of scale involved, and however well the tank farm may have been camouflaged at Loch Long, it may nevertheless be obtrusive on a much smaller scale on the landscape on parts of the Island of Anglesey unless very stringent conditions are laid down. The noble Earl mentioned, for example, tanks being partly sunk in the ground. Everything of that kind, I would respectfully suggest, should be borne carefully in mind before any agreement is given to the proposals as described by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. I must also dissociate myself from the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. He said that he did not wish to see any further industry at all in rural Wales. This is really praising the plumage and forgetting the dying bird.


My Lords, if I may intervene, what I intended to say, and what I hope I did say, was that I did not want any industry of this kind. Agricultural industries pertaining to rural areas— something concerning milk or something of that kind—are all right. What I meant was that we have had enough of industries coming from industrial areas into Wales, and I do not want any more.


My Lords, I am afraid that I cannot agree with that view, because it very much depends on the way in which the buildings are designed, erected and so on. With great respect to the noble Lord, I feel that he somewhat exaggerated when he referred to the appalling landscape of Llandor and Morriston, to the moonscape there and, by implication, suggested that these proposed installations would have anything in common with that. After all, we want to keep people alive on Anglesey, and it is a question of judgment as to how far the tourist interests and possible industrial development can best do that. I am sure that the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, would agree that, welcome as it is, the additional employment is a very small advantage. We have had this before in regard to Milford Haven, where we have deep-water oil concerns and where the degree of local employment in relation to the capital investment is vestigial. One should not overplay the advantages to Anglesey. One ought to weigh them very carefully in the balance in comparison with the possible detrimental effects which could follow from this development.


My Lords, if the noble Baroness will allow me to intervene for a moment, surely the relationship that should be looked at in terms of jobs is not that between jobs for Anglesey and the Shell company's money but between the jobs for Anglesey and whatever disfigurement of the environment there may be. How much Shell care to spend on it is their business.


My Lords, I am entirely at one with the noble Lord on that. Sometimes one is apt to speak of these enormous investments as though they are going to bring some comparable local advantage, which of course they do not. We have had ample experience of this in another very beautiful part of Wales, in Pembrokeshire, where I urged the oil companies to do more with local processing. I am not suggesting this for one moment in regard to Anglesey; but welcome as this employment is, it is not as great as all that. I was interested to hear about the present, which I assume is going to be free money, this one penny on the— is it ton or gallon?


My Lords, as I understand it—I am not speaking for the company—this is an ex gratia payment by the company to the local authority, and it is per ton.


My Lords, is it in relation to rates? Does this mean that the local authority are going to lose precisely the same amount in the rate-support grant? Is this, or is it not, a gift to Her Majesty's Treasury? If it is free money, then it is welcome. I do not wish to detain your Lordships' House further, except to emphasise again that this is a very important matter in the context of both industry and amenity in North Wales, and we hope that we may have a further opportunity at a later stage to discuss the matter in greater detail.

8.0 p.m.


My Lords, I have listened with very great interest to all the speeches which have been made this afternoon, and I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, and all the other noble Lords and the noble Baroness who have spoken that their remarks will be carefully studied in the OFFICIAL REPORT by the Select Committee to which this Bill will be referred if your Lordships give it a Second Reading. I think all I need do now is to remind your Lordships that it is customary for the House to give a Private Bill a Second Reading so that it can be referred to a Select Committee to hear evidence on behalf of the Promoters and the Petitioners against the Bill. Having done this, the Committee will be in a position to report to the House whether or not the Bill should be allowed to proceed or be amended. The House will then be able, if the Bill proceeds, as the noble Baroness, Lady White, and the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, pointed out, on the Third Reading to consider the Bill with the benefit of the views of the Select Committee.

This is an opposed Bill and three Petitions have been deposited against it. They will be considered by the Select Committee to which the Bill is referred, and they raise, I think, almost all the points that have been made in criticism of the Bill in the speeches of noble Lords this afternoon. The Committee will, of course, pay the closest attention to everything that your Lordships have said. I commend the Second Reading of the Bill to your Lordships.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and referred to the Examiners.