East Anglia: Euro MP fights ‘cripplingly expensive’ EU plans for offshore safety

EAST of England Euro MP Vicky Ford is planning a fight against EU plans on oil and gas safety which she fears could be “cripplingly expensive” and reduce standards in the North Sea.

The Conservative MEP is tabling more than 360 parliamentary amendments in response to the proposals, which would force all member states to conform to the same rules without offering them the required flexibility to adapt the framework to their own national circumstances.

Mrs Ford warned such a move would be cripplingly expensive at a cost of around �150million for the industry and would see those currently involved in crucial offshore safety checks spending years tied up onshore learning how to ensure compliance with the new rules.

She said that following consultations with regulators and industry, it was clear that the EU proposal is unworkable and needed “massive re-writing” in almost every paragraph.

The amendments will tell the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee that any new measures should be in the form of a directive rather than a regulation, meaning UK authorities could maintain the current regime and still incorporate the new measures that will have a positive impact on safety.

“We support actions to enhance offshore safety and environmental protection, but the very restrictive piece of legislation proposed could actually damage standards in countries such as the UK which have long-established and globally-respected safety regimes,” she said. “Far from creating legal certainty, the proposals would actually make lines of responsibility less clear.

“This is an attempt to ‘Europeanise’ national offshore competences by forcing member states to repeal key parts of their domestic law and replace them with a one-size-fits-all piece of EU legislation. The unrealistic timescale and interpretative guidance proposed by the Commission would force the UK oil and gas industry to divert resources to these changes, causing serious project delays with consequences for the economy, investment, jobs and security of energy supply.

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“Now that we have tabled these amendments, we will meet representatives from each political group in the Parliament to try to find a set a compromises on the text which will eventually form the Parliament’s position. This process can take several months and it will be a key time for us to ensure that the amendments I have tabled are taken on board.”