Government rejects calls for drilling moratorium

Calls for a moratorium on deep sea offshore drilling in the North Sea have been rejected by the Government.

Calls for a moratorium on deep sea offshore drilling in the North Sea have been rejected by the Government.

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas said plans to find new oil and gas in deep sea fields should be put on hold following BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

But energy minister Charles Hendry knocked back the suggestion to wait until an investigation into the BP spill had been completed, hailing Britain's safety regime and highlighting the "national interest" in fully exploiting North Sea resources.

During Commons question time, Ms Lucas (Brighton Pavilion) said: "A moratorium on all new deep sea offshore drilling is essential, at least until a full investigation into the spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been completed."

But Hendry replied: "I don't agree with you on this issue. We have in place the toughest environmental regime in the world in the North Sea.

"In the light of the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico we have doubled the number of inspections, we have increased by half the number of inspectors.

"We have a very tough regime indeed in this approach, and we have a national interest in ensuring that we get the best possible return from the national resources which we have in the North Sea."

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