asked Her Majesty's Government:
What account will be taken of the danger to seabirds from oil pollution before any new offshore oil exploration rights or production licences are granted in areas close to major seabird concentrations, such as the West Shetland and inner Moray Firth basins.
§ Lord STRABOLGI
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Energy considers nature conservation aspects in all his decisions on offshore oilfield development. It was largely because he was not satisfied as to its possible impact upon the environment that the initial offshore loading plan for the Beatrice field was turned down by his Department. Any approved development will include arrangements to guard against the risk of pollution and my right honourable friend will require an effective oil spill plan to cope with any spills that may nevertheless occur. As to future licensing, there are of course a number of factors which he takes into account before deciding which blocks to offer. The final decision would reflect where the balance of advantage lay in the national interest.