Meeting with minister over tanker transfers off Southwold

Campaigners awaiting a decision over the mooring of oil tankers off north Suffolk have requested a meeting with the Government's shipping minister.

An extended consultation over plans to create the UK's only ship-to-ship oil transfer zone in the Sole Bay area, between Lowestoft and Southwold, came to an end a fortnight ago - but coastal residents hope a meeting with MP Mike Penning could help sway his final decision.

Many have already made their case to the minister, including members of the Southwold and Reydon Society which has always opposed the transfers because of the risk of oil spill.

Society secretary John Perkins said: 'We don't know just how many people responded to the consultation but we suspect it was quite a lot. Now it's a matter of how long it takes the department to come up with a decision.'

At a meeting of the society last weekend Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey voiced her understanding that the Department for Transport would consider relocating the transfers away from Southwold.

But Mr Perkins described the department's proposal as 'cosmetic', adding: 'It doesn't get rid of the main problem, which is the millions of gallons of oil bobbing around off our shore.

'We would like to meet the minister before a decision is made to let him know the strength of feeling among people.'

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The society has now request a formal meeting with Mr Penning before he announced his decision.

The Department of Transport would not comment on the level of local reaction during the consultation but said it was reviewing all submitted responses.