MP’s regret over Suffolk’s ship-to-ship oil transfers

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey has admitted regret over her part in limiting ship-to-ship oil transfers to coastal waters off Southwold.

The Conservative MP caused anger when she signed a Commons motion last year to overturn a proposed ban on the controversial practice which regularly takes place between ships moored in Sole Bay.

In December shipping minister Mike Penning announced the transfer of oil between ships would still be allowed in UK waters – but only off the north Suffolk coast.

Dr Coffey was confronted by about 30 residents after the town's Conser-vative Club AGM on Friday night over the legislation due to come into force in April. The Southwold and Reydon Society and local Chamber of Trade have raised concerns about the oil transfers, fearing the potential for disaster in the event of a spillage and the impact on the town's tourism.

Their discontent is heightened by the fact that Dr Coffey's predecessor as MP for Suffolk Coastal, John Gummer, pushed for an outright ban on transfers.

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Dr Coffey said afterwards that she understood why people were angry, adding: 'I said 'look, I hold my hands up – I haven't handled this very well and I should have discussed it more widely'. I have learned from that.

'I do understand people's concerns and I am trying to get straight answers from the minister about why it's only Southwold. We still haven't got clear reasons.'

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