§ Dr. Godman
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his Department's role in respect of(a) consultations on the siting of the Esso exploration rig west of the Solway firth at the "Cod Hole" and (b) safeguarding the interests of commercial fishermen who currently fish there. 
§ Mr. Raymond S. Robertson
Esso is currently carrying out exploration drilling in block 112/15 to the west of the Solway firth which was awarded in the 14th round of offshore oil and gas licensing. This block is subject to strict conditions—agreed with, among others, the Scottish Office Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries Department—to restrict the timing and scope of certain activities carried out under the licence. In accordance with these conditions, the company has kept SOAEFD fully informed in advance of each stage of its exploration work in the area. Esso also consulted a number of fishermen's associations—including the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, the Clyde Fishermen's Association and the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations—prior to deciding the location and timing of its exploration drilling.
Arrangements regarding the specific siting of drilling rigs are required by SOAEFD only when species that spawn in the sediment may be adversely affected by drilling activities. No specific arrangements of this nature were required in this case.