Britain demanding environmental impact assessments for North Sea

Sep 10, 1997 02:00 AM

Britain will require environmental impact assessments before approving any large oil and gas developments in the future, announced British energy minister John Battle. The new rule, which tightens the conditions governing developments in the British North Sea, was due to be have been implemented in March 1998 under European Union legislation. Battle said there was no reason not to bring in the new rules immediately. "There has been a lot said recently about the environmental performance of the oil and gas industry and the change will provide an opportunity for the public to see and judge for themselves," Battle said.
"The EIA (environmental impact assessments) will show the sensitivities of the location, the likely impact of the project and the steps being taken to actually reduce those impacts," he added.
Battle said he believed the new rule would add no significant costs to North Sea operations as many companies already carry out such environmental studies routinely. "Our main purposeis to ensure there is no major detrimental impact on the environment," he told.
Britain's oil industry has been criticised fiercely by environmental activists like Greenpeace for damaging the sea bed and ocean waters. Greenpeace mounted a summer protest campaign against exploration in the virgin West of Shetland Atlantic Margin and is going to court to question the legality of 17th round licences granted by the government without an EIA being carried out.

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