Examination of Witness (Questions 640
WEDNESDAY 24 JANUARY 2001
MR M STOREY
640. This is really what happens when something
goes wrong, is it not?
(Mr Storey) Correct.
641. What are you doing to stop things going
wrong? What proportion of shipping entering UK waters is actually
being properly inspected?
(Mr Storey) We have an interface with all British
flagged ships because as flag state we have responsibility for
those vessels. Foreign flag ships which come into the UK are under
the authority of their own flag state. We as a port state are
the safety net to check that those ships are satisfactory. We
are a member of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding, which is
the European area of port state control. Each country within that
group carries out 25 per cent inspections per year; we always
achieve somewhere between 25 and 30 per cent. If each of the states
carries out that 25 per cent and because of the interface and
the information passed from time to time, probably somewhere in
the region of 90 to 95 per cent of foreign flagged ships visiting
the European area are inspected on an annual basis.
642. What happens with that inspection? What
things are looked at, roughly?
(Mr Storey) The system has changed somewhat recently
in July of last year. It was a case of going in and inspecting
a ship which came in and you carried out an inspection of the
safety equipment, crew's certificates to see it met the international
standards of safety. It was decided, because of the poor quality
of some ships, to change the targeting system to encourage administrations
not to look at the good ships but to seek out the bad ships. Therefore,
each ship was given a target factor, for example if you inspected
a good quality ship which had no previous recordand it
is done on a points systemyou would only get the credit
of 0.8 of a survey maybe and you could get up to a credit of 1.8
of a survey, depending on the previous record of that ship, to
try to encourage the administration to look at the really poor
quality ships and penalise the poor quality ships.
643. I have just asked you about the problems
of pollution. It is quite clear that a fair number of ships which
come to British ports are actually still discharging waste, rubbish
at sea and are discharging fuelling tanks and all sorts of other
things which they should not be doing. In these inspections how
far do you check up that a ship tying up brings with it the appropriate
amount of rubbish for the journey it has undertaken?
(Mr Storey) There are two types of discharge. There
is the straightforward galley garbage, this sort of stuff, and
they are required to keep a garbage book on board each ship. We
inspect that garbage book to see the amount of garbage they have
and where they are going to discharge it. Of course we have just
finished an inspection with the UK ports to look at the garbage
facilities for discharging. As far as the discharging of liquids
over the side is concerned, every ship should meet the International
Maritime Organisation MARPOL conventions and they should have
the required equipment on board like oil and water separators
if they discharge over the side and they are limited to where
they can discharge. The other area to watch this is an ordinary
whistle-blowing service where people tell us they have seen a
ship discharge. We have aerial surveillance aircraft which patrol
from time to time for that purpose. We have recently been carrying
out some research work using satellite passes to look at areas
of oil pollution. We have recently been able to give to the DTI
information regarding the discharge from oil rigs in the North
Sea area as a result of these satellite passes.
644. Have any prosecutions resulted from any
of these actions?
(Mr Storey) Yes, we have effected a number of prosecutions
for pollution offences.
645. Are the penalties which have been meted
out commensurate with the size of the crime and the amount of
effort you have to put in to do the detection work?
(Mr Storey) Last year the penalties were dramatically
increased some tenfold from £25,000 to £250,000.
646. That is what can be imposed. What about
actually within that range the courts choosing to go at the bottom
or the top?
(Mr Storey) I cannot assess what the courts are permitted
to give. It would be nice to see as high a figure as possible
given. In one case which we took after the increase was made the
court did levy a very high penalty but it was appealed against
and reduced on appeal.
647. Yes, I am aware of that particular case.
Did you feel that was a misuse by the courts?
(Mr Storey) It is not my place to say it is misuse
by the courts. It is important that we create a situation where
the greatest penalty or disincentive is given to dissuade someone
from discharging oil and water into our coastal areas.
648. It may be unfair of me to ask this question
because it is probably a slightly technical question. I have a
constituent who is very concerned about sea birds and the effect
of oil on them. She tells me that you are piloting a new radar
system to detect oil spillage at sea which might affect seabirds.
Can you tell me how that is going and what your plans are for
(Mr Storey) I think she may be talking about the new
satellite testing system we are doing. We have taken a research
period which has just completed its first six months. As the satellite
passes the UK at certain times of the day it takes an image of
an area, it senses whether there is oil in the water and then
it downloads that information to a base station which in turn
feeds out the information. If we see what looks like a situation
we put the spotter plane up and try to find where it has come
from. Usually you can do that fairly well. We are just about to
extend this for a further six months. It has just been covering
an area of the north of Scotland. We are now moving it down into
the Channel area to where a lot of the shipping is, so we cover
both areas for an extended period of six months to see what happens.
649. So I can tell her that the coast off East
Kent is going to be covered by this new satellite in the near
(Mr Storey) You can and if she would like to see something
we should be happy to show her it.
650. You seem very satisfied with the effect
of the closure of Oban and Pentland, but of course you will know
I personally raised with you some worries from the Mallaig fishermen
in the area, to which I must say I got a very self-satisfied reply.
There are still considerable doubts as to the efficacy of many
of the measures in this area. Have you not had any complaints?
Am I the only one who has received a complaint?
(Mr Storey) No. The complaint you raised was raised
direct from the people involved to ourselves.
651. I always find that is the best way.
(Mr Storey) It is the only incident we have had complained
about, the only one complaint we have had since the closure of
652. The only one? I think the Member of Parliament
is very unhappy about some of the things which are happening in
the area. Are you telling me that none of that has been transmitted
to the Agency?
(Mr Storey) The only written complaint or request
I have had regarding the closure of Oban is the written request
which you and the Mallaig fishermen's organisation did direct
653. Are you now satisfied that there is sufficient
safe means of communication that will safeguard the interests
of the fishing community in that area?
(Mr Storey) I am.
654. You are quite convinced that they are now
covered by safe measures and that there is no problem in the area
(Mr Storey) No. The radio aerials Oban were listening
to are being listened to by the adjacent two stations, so the
coverage has not diminished in any way from what it was previously.
655. I know that, but you will remember, as
we discussed at the time, listening is a very wide term and there
are very real difficulties in a watch room.
(Mr Storey) Yes. There is no problem in the watch
room as far as listening is concerned. There are in the Scottish
hills, as we are all well aware, some blind areas.
656. You now have a plan under which you are
going to extend the number of aerials and you are going to be
quite confident in a very short period of time that these problems
will have been dealt with.
(Mr Storey) We do not have a plan to extend the aerials.
We look at each and every case and see whether there is an opportunity
to put another aerial up if we see a complete dead spot which
justifies such a situation.
657. Why do you think that the fishermen in
this area are not convinced that they are covered in a way which
would enable them to enjoy a high level of service?
(Mr Storey) Some of the methods of communication have
modernised with the installation of GMDSS and a lot of them still
have the old equipment, as a result of which we are keeping headset
watch for a longer period than is required. By 2002 the 2182 watch
should cease but we are keeping such a watch on a loudspeaker
service to give them time to change over. The Government have
already announced that we shall extend our services to 2005 for
such a situation, to give them a good opportunity to change their
658. Are you quite confident that the whole
system of Clyde operations is now performing just as efficiently
as it was when Oban was in operation?
(Mr Storey) I am.
659. May I ask you what your relationship is
with the Department? Have you aligned your aims and objectives
with those of the Department in terms of improving transport safety?
(Mr Storey) Yes. We are probably a small player in
the overall transport safety issue because the principal ones
are on the roads and highways. Of course we do adopt the health
and safety requirements of Europe in this country and on board
ships on tours of duty, etcetera. We are promoting the health
and safety issues throughout.