HL Deb 27 June 1977 vol 384 cc994-5WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, now that questions of the disposal of nuclear waste are to be the responsibility of the Department of the Environment, rather than of the Department responsible for nuclear production, they are contemplating moving ultimate responsibility for policy relating to prevention of oil pollution from offshore installations to the Department of the Environment and away from the Department responsible for oil production; and whether discoveries in the Moray Firth do not make such a transfer particularly timely.


Policy on the prevention of oil pollution from offshore installations is intrinsically linked with Government procedures relating to oil exploration and production. There would be no advantage to be gained in separating responsibility for the one from that for the others. Coverage of this matter is achieved through the following means: before oilfield development takes place the Department of Energy scrutinises the production and development programme to ensure that environmental factors have been taken into account; a series of safety regulations backed up by inspection by the Petroleum Engineering Inspectorate ensures that good operating practices prevail on installations thus minimising the risk of oil spillage: and the responsibility for controlling the limits of oil discharges from offshore installations is, and will remain, that of the Department of Energy whose Inspectorate monitors these controls. A number of bodies have an interest in this responsibility as it applies to land based terminals etc. and the question of who best should deal with it is presently under review.

Proposals by Mesa for development of the Beatrice field in the Moray Firth are presently under consideration by the Department of Energy in consultation. With other interested Departments to ensure that all relevant environmental factors are taken into consideration.