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Drilling ban would be harmful – says Lyon

SCOTTISH MEP George Lyon has described a decision by the European Parliament’s environment committee to call for a moratorium on deepwater drilling in European waters as a “knee-jerk-reaction”.

The environment committee adopted a moratorium with 46 votes in favour, eight against and three abstentions. The full parliament will debate and vote on the resolution in early October.

Speaking after the committee’s decision on Tuesday, the LibDem politician said any ban would have a detrimental impact on Scotland.

“This is a knee-jerk reaction. Safety standards are far higher in the North Sea basin than in the Gulf of Mexico and to introduce a moratorium on new drilling does nothing but harm European interests.

“After the Piper Alpha disaster and the subsequent Cullen Enquiry, platform safety standards in the North Sea are the best in the world.

“The UK is the only significant producer of oil in Europe with the fields off the West of Shetland among some of the most promising areas for development. To introduce a blanket ban across Europe will have a disproportionate effect on Scotland.

“The UK industry is far from complacent when it comes to safety. Procedures and practices are constantly reviewed and changes implemented when necessary,” he said.

But the move was welcomed by the Norwegian environmental organisation Bellona.

Its spokesman Eivind Hoff said: “Bellona welcomes the decision of the committee and now waits for the existing legislation on liability and security to be updated and completed.

“This draft resolution sends a strong message also to non-EU countries such as Norway that the potential consumers in Europe do not want oil or gas produced irresponsibly.”

Meanwhile, environmental campaigners from Greenpeace have stopped their protest at the drill ship Stena Carron, around 100 miles north of Shetland, after the oil company was granted a second interdict, on Tuesday.

Campaigner Leila Deen, on board the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, said on Wednesday that the interdict was currently studied by the organisation’s lawyers after it had been served on the head office, in London, in the morning.

She said the Esperanza was now in the vicinity of the Lagavulin prospect where the Stena Carron is expected to start drilling a wildcat well in 500 metres of water, once Chevron receives the nod from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.