Over the last couple of years oil spills have been featured prominently on TV screens across the globe, thanks in large to the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and the ongoing problems regarding Shell’s control of oil spillage in the Niger Delta. However, it could now be that the possibility of this happening in British waters has increased with Parliaments vote last month to allow for ship to ship transfer of oil in the quaint Anglian coastal town of Southwold.
Understandably the decision has sparked cries of indignation from locals who now believe that even the threat of a spill could have a marked impact upon the local tourist industry.
John Perkins from the Southwold and Reydon Society commented that:
“The prospect we now face is a perpetual risk of an oil threat, large numbers of oil tankers…now come here. They all come to Southwald, they won’t go anywhere else.”
However, Government minister Mike Penning remains adamant that having the process occur within the British waters rather than in international waters will allow for better monitoring of such transfers and, help maintain the “generally excellent safety record” that these operations have in the UK.
Despite Government attempts to allay local fears Stephen Hagan, Convener of Orkney Island Council insists that the proposed site in Southwold is a far riskier enterprise than the transfers that take place at Scapa Flow Port in Orkney. He remarked that:
“we… have all the facilities to deal with an oil spill (in Scapa Flow) whereas… in Southwold…the risks are much, much higher.”
If the proposed oil terminal in Southwold is to be properly monitored and regulated then it should clearly provide a boost for Southwold’s local economy. If however, there is any complacency in the overseeing of these operations then the need for a swift and efficient spill containment response to any future incidents will be of the utmost importance to protect our fragile coastline.