HL Deb 16 November 1971 vol 325 cc561-2

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will confer with the other Governments concerned upon the question of the frequent hazards to navigation in the English Channel caused by outsize tankers drawing 50 feet or more, and whether they will consider the possibility of installing a lane of radar beacons such as was used effectively during the late war.]


My Lords, I apologise for the length of this Answer. I am happy to tell my noble friend that action along the lines which he suggests is already taking place. On the proposal of Her Majesty's Government, a meeting was held in London in May between the Belgian, French, Netherlands and United Kingdom Governments to discuss safety of navigation in the English Channel. The main items discussed included hydrographic surveys, surveys of marine traffic, the marking and removal of wrecks and pilotage. The French and United Kingdom delegations agreed to consider the possibility of setting up a comprehensive advisory system to provide assistance to the masters of all ships using the Dover Strait. Now that the necessary preliminary work has been done, Her Majesty's Government are about to commission a study of the feasibility of possible systems.

A United Kingdom proposal for a new deep-draught route in the Dover Strait to cater for the largest loaded tankers has been adopted by I.M.C.O. (the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation) and will be implemented, subject to a satisfactory check survey, when the necessary aids to navigation are in position and certain wrecks have been marked. The use of a lane of radar beacons, however, would be detrimental to safety because the resulting signals on a ship's receiver might well obscure echoes from other vessels in the Channel.


My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his most interesting and comprehensive Answer.

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