§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government what studies have been made and what discussions held among littoral States of the North Sea and other interested parties regarding the proposal to construct a 21-acre artificial island 477 in the high seas over the Ekofisk oilfield.]
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE, FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE (THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN)
My Lords, there have been no formal contacts on this question. Various schemes are known to be under consideration. Any installations in connection with the Ekofisk fields would be on the Norwegian side of the Continental Shelf Boundary and would be subject to Norwegian Government supervision.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, if there are to be these 21-acre islands built all over the North Sea, is it not the case, that we may expect them to come on our side of the Continental Shelf before long? Is it not also the case that each island carries with it a safety zone for navigational purposes—a "keep out" zone—of no less than 1 kilometre across? Further, is it not the case that there should be some international co-ordination of safety and pollution regulations governing, this type of under-water oil storage? And, finally and in general, is it not the case that if these things are to be built without any inter-governmental contact or arrangement for control, we shall shortly have a dangerous archipelago in what has been hitherto a fairly safe sea?
§ MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, the noble Lord has quite rightly drawn the attention of the House to a situation which, I agree, could give rise to great difficulty. I am certain that the Government will pay great attention to what he has said. At the moment certain consultations are going on between the British Government and the Norwegian Government concerning these points. Indeed. the Seabed Committee of the United Nations is seized of the problem as well. But I take the point that the noble Lord has made and I will draw my right honourable friend's attention to it.