Suffolk could rank alongside Florida

LAWYERS are today studying proposals which could see Suffolk's beautiful coastline ranked alongside such world famous gems as the Florida Keys and Great Barrier Reef to stop an oil spill disaster.

By Richard Cornwell

LAWYERS are today studying proposals which could see Suffolk's beautiful coastline ranked alongside such world famous gems as the Florida Keys and Great Barrier Reef to stop an oil spill disaster.

The idea for special designation – which would ban all single-hull tankers and re-route them away from its protected shores – has been put forward by government officials.

They want the east coast and English Channel made a "particularly sensitive sea area" (PSSA) by July next year to protect its wildlife and habitat.


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But it is already generating controversy internationally, with oil barons worried that it could set a precedent and lead to a host of similar areas being designated around the world.

They say PSSAs "could spring up everywhere", restricting the oil trade unfairly and adding extra costs.

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Opponents also claim there is not a strong enough case that there could be an oil disaster to warrant a PSSA classification for the east coast, and a PSSA should not be used as a weapon against a particular cargo.

The International Maritime Organisation has now asked a team of lawyers to start looking at the issue and has deferred its decision on the PSSAs until their report is ready for discussion.

If agreed, the PSSA will be a huge boost for conservationists and give Suffolk's Heritage Coast even greater protection from suffering a calamity like that of the Prestige tanker sinking, when 77,000 tonnes of oil devastated beaches in Spain.

Suffolk Coastal council has welcomed the government's move but is keen that it "does not damage normal trade from well built and properly controlled shipping," and would like to see improved maintenance and inspection of ships.

n What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or email EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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