Further oppostion to tankers off Lowestoft and Southwold

The Suffolk Preservation Society has spoken out strongly against the practice of ship-to-ship oil transfers in the North Sea between Lowestoft and Southwold.

Society director Simon Cairns has described plans to create an exclusive oil transfer zone off the Suffolk coast next month as lunacy as it may pose an environmental risk and threaten tourism.

The area off Sole Bay is used by small tankers bringing oil from Russia to transfer to larger vessels unable to negotiate the Baltic Sea.

Mr Cairns is urging people in the region to voice their opposition to the creation of the exclusive zone, which will attract other tankers to the region, by taking part in a government consultation on the zone scheme which finishes on March 10.

Mr Cairns said: 'I am lost for words at the lunacy of this initiative. Our coast is a precious resource that must be respected and cherished. Signing up to centralise ship-to ship oil transfers in this highly sensitive environment is frankly reckless and irresponsible.

'In 2008 a scheme for transferring oil in the Firth of Forth was rightly rejected on environmental grounds and we believe our coastline is equally precious and deserving of protection.

'Tourism is a key economic driver for Suffolk and to risk the destruction of this industry for the benefit of oil magnates is beyond belief.

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To comment on the consultation write to minister for shipping Mike Penning, Department for Transport, Great Minster House, 76 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DR or e-mail Godfrey.Suiter@DFT.gsi.gov.uk