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October 22, 2003 1:15 PM

Norman Baker MPThe Government is continuing to take no action to protect British waters from toxic ships carrying heavy oil, asbestos and PCB chemicals, despite having the power to remove the toxic ghost fleet from UK waters, according to the Liberal Democrats.

In response to a Parliamentary Question from Norman Baker MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary, the Department for Transport admitted the Secretary of State's Representative could re-route the fleet for safety or environmental reasons.

Norman Baker said:

"Once again, Government inaction is costing the environment dearly.

"The Department for Transport has admitted it can take action to stop these decrepit, potentially dangerous, ships polluting British waters, but is choosing to do nothing.

"And questions still remain whether or not there is planning permission for a dry dock to receive these ships.

"The Government must explain why it has seemingly taken no action to protect us from the toxic ghost fleet."


Norman Baker (Lewes)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the planned route within UK waters is of the ships from the US Reserve Fleet intended for dismantling on Teesside which have set sail from the US; what control he has over this route; and if he will make a statement. [133362]

Mr McNulty

The routing for the first ships within the contract will be through the English Channel, observing mandatory IMO traffic separation schemes, and up the east coast of the UK. Generally international rights of freedom of navigation apply, although upon entry into UK waters the tows could be directed by the Secretary of State's Representative to change routing or to

leave UK waters if he believed it necessary for safety reasons to prevent pollution or to conduct salvage operations.