HL Deb 09 February 1993 vol 542 cc39-40WA
Lord Norrie

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What arrangements are being made for the submission of evidence to Lord Donaldson of Lymington's Inquiry into possible measures to protect United Kingdom coastlines from pollution by merchant shipping.

The Minister of State, Department of Transport (The Earl of Caithness)

Lord Donaldson of Lymington held a preliminary hearing at Church House, Westminster on 29th January at which he invited written submissions to the Inquiry to reach the secretariat by the end of February. Lord Donaldson emphasised that although his Inquiry was set up in reaction to the "Braer" accident, he will not be investigating that accident. It is already the subject of investigations by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and the Liberian Government. Nor does his Inquiry cover the ecological effects of the "Braer" oil spill, which will be assessed by the Ecological Steering Group appointed by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Lord Donaldson said he would consider any issues within his terms of reference which appear to him to be relevant, but he expects to concentrate on finding answers to four questions:

What incidents could occur in the future which could cause damage to the coastline of the UK? The Inquiry is likely to concentrate on oil pollution but other pollutants will be considered if they appear to be relevant.

How might such incidents arise?

What practical steps can be taken to make such incidents much less likely to arise?

What practical steps can be taken to reduce or eliminate the adverse effects of such an incident if it does arise?

At this stage, the following topics have been identified as ones which the Inquiry expects to consider:

Navigational issues, including routeing, weather forecasting and position finding.

Vessel structure, including design, classification by the classification societies and standards and systems of maintenance.

Vessel operation, including who takes crucial decisions, whether the responsibility of ships' masters is being eroded, training officers and crews and communications.

Effectiveness of existing national and international legislation, and possible improvements.

Lessons from worldwide experience of accidents and near-accidents.

Insurance and compensation, as they influence decisions taken in potentially dangerous situations.

Salvage and whether present and traditional arrangements are satisfactory in the context of a hazardous cargo.

Treatment of pollution, including means of preventing pollutants reaching the coast, treatment of pollutants which do not reach the coast and contingency planning.

Lord Donaldson hopes that a very wide range of individuals and organisations with relevant expertise will send written submissions on these matters to the Inquiry. These should be sent to:

  • The Secretary to Lord Donaldson's Inquiry
  • Room 3/2, Sunley House
  • 90–93 High Holborn