Miranda Dobson

Member Article

Arctic drilling causes concern for MPs

MPs have called for a ban on oil and gas drilling in the arctic today, after concerns about the impact on the environment.

The Environmental Audit Committee has voiced concerns that standards are not up to scratch, and a ban should be called on UK gas and oil companies operating in the arctic.

Shell has already put a halt to operations after its containment dome broke at the weekend, which would contain any oil spills resulting from drilling.

Eight countries currently sit on the arctic council including Canada, Denmark,Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the U.S, while the UK has no jurisdiction in the region.

The committee are backing a solitary regime that all countries operating in the area would adhere to, and called for the UK Government to lead on environmental drilling standards.

A ban on UK drilling has been suggested until environmental standards are put in place to prevent spillages and to safeguard problems that would not be resolvable when winter conditions become too harsh.

Speaking to the Today Show on BBC Radio 4, Joan Walley, MP and chair of the Environment Audit Committee said: “The particular problem is that when you’re talking about offshore drilling, and you’re talking about drilling in such harsh circumstances as the arctic, we have to have proven techniques in place first of all.

“And we’re not convinced that that is currently the case and it’s for that reason that we want to see all drilling halted until we have the highest available environmental standards in place.”

Ms Walley added that there is an additional problem of shipping. She said: “The more melt that you have, you’re opening up the arctic to shipping channels as well, so therefore there’s the parallel issue of what to do about shipping, and whether or not the IMO can work quickly enough to get new procedures and standards in place.”

She concluded: “It’s incumbent upon all of us to make sure that we’re getting the highest possible environmental standards.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Miranda Dobson .

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