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Antarctic

Volume 487: debated on Monday 2 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many personnel there are on each of the four British research stations in the British Antarctic Territory. (247701)

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) maintains three research stations in the British Antarctic Territory on behalf of the UK. Two operate year-round (Rothera, Adelaide Island and Halley, Coats Land) and the third is a summer-only base (Signy, South Orkney Islands). Numbers of personnel at each of the bases are as follows:

Rothera—between 80-120 in summer and 21 in winter

Halley—up to 70 (summer) and 16 (winter)

Signy—up to nine (summer only)

In addition, BAS also operates two year-round research stations in the UK Overseas Territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. These are at King Edward Point, South Georgia and Bird Island. Numbers of personnel at these bases are:

King Edward Point—up to 22 (summer) and 10 (winter)

Bird Island—up to 10 (summer) and four (winter).

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what research activity the UK is conducting in the British Antarctic Territory; and what the objectives of such research are. (247702)

The UK is committed to maintaining its leading role in Antarctic science and research and is conducting an extensive, multi-disciplinary programme of activities in the British Antarctic Territory and more widely within the Antarctic. These include areas such as climate change, sea level rise and the sustainable use of natural resources. The contribution of UK scientists, especially those at the British Antarctic Survey (a research institute of the Natural Environment Research Council), not only helps increase our understanding of the complex natural systems that are vital to the health of the planet but also underpins the UK’s high profile within the Antarctic Treaty System.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what international laws govern drilling and mineral extraction rights in the British Antarctic Territory; and what reports he has received on attempted oil exploration or research in the Antarctic by other countries. (247703)

The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty sets out a comprehensive regime for the protection of the Antarctic environment and prohibits any activity relating to mineral resources, other than scientific research. We have received no reports on attempted oil exploration or research in the Antarctic by other countries.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what areas in the British Antarctic Territories (a) are designated and (b) receive funding from his Department as sites of special scientific interest. (247704)

There are 70 Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPAs) in the Antarctic of which 14 were proposed solely or jointly by the UK.

None of the ASP As for which the UK is responsible within the British Antarctic Territory receive funding, other than that needed to prepare and update management plans. Direct funding of the above ASP As is unnecessary as all such designated areas are given comprehensive protection via the Antarctic Treaty System and all states parties to the treaty are required to control access and entry strictly.