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Barge, Hallsands

Volume 229: debated on Tuesday 27 July 1993

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will arrange for the barge scuttled at Hallsands, south Devon to be removed as a danger to shipping; and if he will make a statement as to the circumstances in which the barge was sunk and the application of the Oslo convention to the sinking.

I understand that the barge in question was being used in connection with coast protection works being undertaken for the National Rivers Authority. It has been moved from where it first sank, and subsequently scuttled nearby. It is an offence under the Coast Protection Act 1949 to deposit any object on the seabed so that obstruction or danger to navigation is caused, without the consent in writing of the Secretary of State. That consent was not sought in advance as the Act requires. We have had an application from a local person seeking retrospective consent for this action which has now been refused. My Department has invoked its powers of enforcement to ask the National Rivers Authority to ensure that this unauthorised danger is cleared as a matter of urgency. International agreements regulating scuttling have been implemented through the Food and Environment Protection Act 1973, administered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. It, too, is considering appropriate action in this case.