Southwold/Lowestoft: Tanker debate intensifies

A tourism boss has warned an oil spill of the Suffolk coast could devastate towns like Southwold and Lowestoft.

Choose Suffolk’s Tim Passmore spoke as concerns mount over increased ship-to-ship oil transfers off the county’s shores.

Last week two fishermen had a lucky escape when their 34ft boat, Chloe-Paige, was in collision with a 200,000 tanker.

Richard Morgan and Brian Wright were fishing for cod and skate when they said a Singapore-owned vessel crashed into their bow and started to pull them down.

Fears were instantly raised by the Southwold and Reydon Society about the potential for disaster in the event of a spillage and the impact on tourism.

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The Government has offered to consult the public on the controversial issue of the sea between Lowestoft and Southwold becoming the only place in the country where ship-to-ship oil transfers can take place.

Mr Passmore, Chief Executive of Suffolk tourism promoters Choose Suffolk, said an investigation into last week’s incident was not enough to save the coast from a potential disaster. “This simply has to stop”, he added. “Not only were two of our hard working fishermen nearly killed but the actions of this tanker could have caused an environmental disaster for our coast.”

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“Tourism is worth �1.75 billion every year to our county and employs thousands of people. The last thing our coastal resources need is an oil spill.

“Towns like Lowestoft and Southwold would be devastated.

“Shipping lanes along the coast of Suffolk are a key part of the UK economy but those global companies using them can not do so with disregard for everyone else.”

Mr Passmore said he would be writing to shipping company Prisco about the incident.

The Southwold and Reydon Society has organised a meeting about the issue of ship-to-ship transfers for March 12 at 5pm, though a venue has not yet been agreed.

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