Firth of Forth oil transfer regulations on hold

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New regulations which would have prevented ship-to-ship oil transfers taking place in the Firth of Forth have been put on hold.

The rules were due to come into force in October after environmental concerns about potential oil spills.

The coalition UK government has announced that the regulations are being put on hold while a new consultation is launched.

The move comes after lobbying from the industry and south of England MPs.

Transport minister Mike Penning said he wanted to ensure the regulations were fit for purpose.

But Thomas Docherty MP for Dunfermline and West Fife called for an urgent Commons debate and said the environment must be protected.

Two years ago, SPT Marine services proposed to transfer almost eight million tonnes of crude oil a year between ships in the Forth.

The bid was withdrawn after the government said regulations against the practice would be brought in.

Mr Docherty said: "I have demanded an urgent debate in the house of commons before recess starts and will work with colleagues from both sides of the house to oppose this review vehemently.

"It is incredible, as oil continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico, that the new government would defer regulation in Scotland.

"We all know the environmental and financial costs in the event of an oil spill would be utterly catastrophic."

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