§ Sir Walter Clegg
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what changes have been made in his Department's arrangements for dealing with marine pollution emergencies.
§ Mr. Eyre
The responsibilities of the Marine Pollution Control Unit—MPCU—the Marine Survey Service and Her Majesty's Coastguard are being re-aligned from 1 April to reflect the development of the MPCU and to take advantage of the 24-hour a day availability of Her Majesty's Coastguard.
The MPCU, whose tasks include taking charge of operations at sea in the event of a marine pollution emergency and developing contingency plans to deal with such incidents, has been strengthened by the recruitment of eight marine pollution control officers. They are based in the marine survey districts and act locally for the director of the MPCU.
Her Majesty's Coastguard is being given additional responsibilities. It will now make the initial assessment of reports of marine pollution threats and inform the MPCU of the situation. If for any reason it is unable to establish contact rapidly, it will have delegated authority to commit reconnaissance and dispersant-spraying resources in cases where urgent action is needed.
Principle officers in the marine survey districts will therefore no longer have a direct operational responsibility for assessing and acting upon reports of pollution threats passed to them by Her Majesty's Coastguard, nor for the preparation of contingency plans. It will still be available, with other members of the Marine Survey Service, to provide the MPCU with professional advice and assistance as necessary.