SNP MEP Ian Hudghton says Member State
governments must step up the pace to phase out single hull oil tankers
such as the Prestige and Braer, infamous for the environmental damage they
inflicted on the coasts of Galicia and Scotland. Mr Hudghton’s plea comes
after members of the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly for single
hull tankers to be phased out by 2010 – five years earlier than proposed
by the Commission.
The accelerated phasing out of these
vessels (in the Piecyk report – A5-0144/2003) was agreed in Strasbourg
this morning, just months after the tanker, Prestige, foundered off the
Galician coast of Spain. When news of the Galician disaster broke, Mr
Hudghton expressed his anger that European Governments had allowed another
disaster to occur by failing to phase out single hull tankers. He
indicated his disbelief that no lessons had apparently been learned from
the Braer disaster off Shetland in 1993 and accused Governments of putting
business before Europe’s coastal communities.
Welcoming MEP support for forcing the
pace on tanker safety, Mr Hudghton said:
"Coastal communities the length and
breadth of Europe will welcome this news. The report seeks to get these
single hull tankers out of our waters and I am particularly pleased that
MEPs are looking to cut the transitional period by five years.
"In Scotland we are bounded by some of
the most treacherous seaways of Europe and are sadly no strangers to the
environmental tragedy which can ensue when an oil tanker sheds its cargo
at sea. I know that a good many Shetlanders, haunted by memories of the
1993 Braer disaster, felt deeply for Galicians whose livelihood and
environment was blighted by the Prestige disaster last year. I also know
of many who, like myself, were bewildered – and very angry – as to why
such a disaster could happen again ten years on.
"The bitter lesson our coastal
communities have learned is that single hull tankers can and do wreak
havoc and will do so again unless action is taken. It is for this reason
that Parliament hopes to reach a swift agreement with the Council. The
ball is now well and truly with the UK, Spanish and other member state
Governments. They must afford this legislation the same priority which we
in the European Parliament believe it deserves."