NATIONAL CONTINGENCY PLAN FOR MARINE POLLUTION FROM SHIPPING AND OFFSHORE INSTALLATIONS
INTERVENTION POWERS OFFSHORE INSTALLATIONS
E.1 Section 3 of the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999 provides for powers (corresponding to those contained in Schedule 3A to the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 as inserted by the Marine Safety Act 2003, in relation to ships) to prevent and reduce pollution and the risk of pollution following an accident involving an offshore installation32.
E.2 The powers enable the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to give directions and to take such other actions as may be necessary in respect of an offshore installation. The Secretary of State may use the powers to prevent or minimise pollution or the threat of pollution.
Application of Statutory Powers
E.3 The Offshore Installations (Emergency Pollution Control) Regulations 2002 (EPC Regs), made under Section 3 of the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999, implement the recommendations made in Lord Donaldson’s “Review of Salvage and Intervention and their Command and Control” in relation to oil and gas activities carried out wholly or partly on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf.
E.4 Under the EPC Regs the power to give directions and take other necessary action is exercisable in accordance with regulation 3 where;
E.5 Directions given by the Secretary of State may require the person to whom they are given to take or refrain from taking any action and may require that person:
E.6 In addition, regulation 3 of the EPC Regulations confers intervention powers in respect of pollution. Pollution includes pollution by oil or pollution by any other substance liable:
or pollution by any other substances listed in the Schedule to the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution: Substances Other than Oil (Intervention) Order 1997.
E.8 During the response to an accident, the normal operational arrangement is for the SOSREP to exercise the powers or, in the SOSREP’s absence, his Deputy. Ultimate accountability for the SOSREP’s decisions rests with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.
How can we use the powers?
Powers conferred by EPC Regulations
E.9 When the criteria mentioned in paragraph F.4 are satisfied the Secretary of State may give directions as respects any offshore installation to:
E.10 If in the opinion of the Secretary of State directions are, or have proved to be, inadequate for the purpose the Secretary of State may, for the purpose of preventing or reducing pollution, or the risk of pollution, take, as respects the offshore installation or its contents, any action of any kind whatsoever, and this may include;
E.11 For the purposes of giving a direction to or serving a direction on a person, a person acting on behalf of the Secretary of State shall have the right to go onboard the offshore installation.
E.12 Any person who fails to comply with or contravenes any requirement of a direction commits an offence under Regulation 5 of the EPC Regs, punishable by a fine. Likewise, it is also an offence to intentionally obstruct any person acting on behalf of the Secretary of State or who is acting in compliance with a direction.
Compensation for Unreasonable Loss or Damage
E.13 With the introduction of Government powers of intervention, it is necessary to ensure that any person(s) should have the right to claim compensation from the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry where it can be established there was unreasonable loss or damage caused by a direction given by the SOSREP. Any award of compensation will be a matter for the relevant court to decide.
32 An “ offshore installation” means ‘any structure or other thing (but not a ship) in or under: (a) United Kingdom territorial waters, or (b) any waters mentioned in section 7(9)(b) or (c) of the PPC Act 1999, which is used for the purposes of or in connection with, the exploration, development or production of petroleum. back
33 An “accident” means any occurrence causing material damage or threat of material damage to an offshore installation. back
34 An “operator” in relation to an offshore installation means any person who operates the offshore installation and includes any person who owns it at the time any powers conferred by these regulations are exercised in relation to the offshore installation. back
35 Before sinking an installation, however, the person exercising the intervention powers would need to arrange for the issue of a licence under Part II of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 for the placement of the installation on the seabed. Defra issues licences for UK territorial sea adjacent to England and Wales; the Fisheries Research Services, Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen for waters adjacent to Scotland (for waters beyond three miles of the coast this would be done on behalf of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry as per Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act 1998); and EHS for waters adjacent to Northern Ireland. It is the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry that is the licensing authority from the area outwith controlled waters (3 miles from the coastal baseline) out to the limit of the UK pollution control zone. As such, Defra, FRS and EHS undertake respectively, the issue of these authorisations on behalf of the Secretary of State. back