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Call to block deep-sea drilling by BP

Call to block deep-sea drilling by BP
Environmental campaigners have called on the UK Government to halt BP plans to begin a deep-sea drilling operation west of Shetland in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

Environmental campaigners have called on the UK Government to halt BP plans to begin a deep-sea drilling operation west of Shetland in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

The beleaguered oil giant wants to drill to depths of 4,265ft in a field 60 miles west of the islands.

According to a BP spokesman, no date has been fixed for the project and it is subject to government approval.

Greenpeace wants to see a US-style moratorium on deep-sea drilling this side of the Atlantic, a measure that UK ministers have so far ruled out.

The environmental campaign group accused the Westminster coalition yesterday of acting as if the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in April, which killed 11 people and caused millions of gallons of oil to pollute the sea, had never happened.

Greenpeace energy spokes-man Joss Garman said: “A gulf-style blowout off Scotland’s coast would not only wreak havoc to fragile habitats and biodiversity, but also to the UK’s economic recovery.”

MPs announced last month there is to be an inquiry into the massive Gulf of Mexico spill.

The energy and climate change committee will examine the hazards of drilling in deeper waters west of Shetland and consider whether the existing safety regime and environmental rules are fit for purpose. Its inquiry will also look at whether the government was right to rule out a moratorium on deep-water drilling.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said in June there was “every reason to increase our vigilance” given the beginning of exploration in deeper UK waters.

The government has also announced an increase in inspections of North Sea drilling rigs in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe.

Annual environmental inspections on drilling rigs will be doubled and a new oil industry group is being asked to report on the UK’s ability to prevent and respond to a potential spill.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said yesterday: “We will not consent to the drilling of any well unless we are convinced that it is designed to the very highest standards, that the equipment used is fully tested and that the people working on the well are fully trained.”

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