Examination of Witnesses (560-579)|
18 JUNE 2003
JAMIESON MP, MR
Q560 Chairman: Do you need primary
Mr Reeves: No, not if the EC regulation
is agreed and it is a priority for agreement under the Italian
Q561 Chairman: It is a priority for
the Italian presidency.
Mr Reeves: Yes.
Q562 Chairman: That is not a very
concrete guarantee of anything, is it?
Mr Reeves: I think there will
be hell to pay if it is not agreed by the Transport Council in
October, if not before.
Q563 Chairman: If the Prime Minister
of Italy manages to find time between his appearances in court.
Do you think he will be able to?
Mr Reeves: I cannot comment on
the Italian Government. That is certainly beyond my remit.
Q564 Chairman: Supposing agreement
is not reached. Do you then have to bring forward primary legislation?
Mr Reeves: I hope that will not
Q565 Chairman: I did not ask you
what you hoped.
Mr Reeves: There is an alternative
route under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act and if that
worst case were to come to pass, I imagine that emergency action
would be taken to legislate separately.
Q566 Chairman: The government gave
some money to British Ports Industry Training to fund training.
What is the position with respect to the new safety and training
Mr Burr: The British Ports Industry
Training organisation relied on government grants for its core
funding. Sadly that was one of its weaknesses. As PSS explained
to you just now, they are providing their own core funding from
the membership, but they are still eligible and are still receiving
project funding, for example for the development of additional
Q567 Chairman: So you do in fact
have an input in order to speed up the whole adoption of proper
Mr Burr: Yes. We have worked with
them on the development of occupational standards, for example
those in support of the Port Marine Safety Code, and they are
working on one currently on the port controllers, the radar operators
in ports. They received government funding to support the work
on that standard.
Q568 Chairman: You know the industry
is very concerned about the Wild Bird and Habitats Directive,
particularly in relation to the dredging of navigation channels.
Are these excluded from the United Kingdom special areas of conservation
in future or are they included?
Mr Burr: We understand that concern
entirely and in fact I think you wrote to the Secretary of State
about it. Many of the estuaries in this country have already been
designated, including the navigation channels. There is a particular
issue, as it happens, with the channel in the centre of the Severn
estuary. Partly following the concern you expressed, English Nature
did a review of what the position was in other Member States and
establishedyou will not be at all surprisedthat
it was inconsistent.
Q569 Chairman: That was a constructive
Mr Burr: We took this evidence
to the Commission, who were persuaded by it to issue guidance
that navigation channels should be included and they are now on
the backs of the Member States who have not included them to do
something about this.
Q570 Chairman: So it did not solve
our problem, it just spread the damage around.
Mr Burr: To the extent that it
is a problem.
Q571 Chairman: Come now Mr Burr.
We have had this argument and we have given evidence from this
Committee to the department on this. It is clear that the whole
question of the dredging of navigation channels, which are actually
as ancient as the Ancient Britons, is going to impact directly
on the working of a port. What happens, if, for any reason, this
is implemented and stops the work in the port?
Mr Burr: The reason I made that
comment is that because the channels are so long-established and
are such a feature of the port, the maintenance of them, done
in a sustainable way, is unlikely to cause further environmental
Q572 Chairman: With respect, that
is an interpretation of something which you think will not happen.
The reality is that they are only maintained because they are
Mr Burr: Yes.
Q573 Chairman: Are you saying to
us that you are quite satisfied in the department that that position
is protected and that they will not be stopped because they are
now included in the Wild Bird and Habitats Directive?
Mr Burr: The ports industry has
done a lot of work on more sustainable ways of doing dredging
operations and if you were at Harwich Haven, for example, the
way the dredging is done there actually has environmental benefits.
Q574 Chairman: It has not had a great
impact on the thinking of the Commission over the last 40 years,
Mr Burr: It is hard to comment.
Q575 Chairman: Are you discussing
this with DEFRA?
Mr Burr: Yes.
Q576 Chairman: Are you quite satisfied
that you can come to a workable method of protecting entry into
Mr Burr: Yes.
Q577 Chairman: Are you quite satisfied
about the Market Access to Port Services Directive?
Mr Reeves: In what sense?
Q578 Chairman: Do you believe that
it does recognise the differences between the United Kingdom and
Mr Reeves: It does far more now
than it did.
Q579 Chairman: That is because it
did not at all. Let us not bandy words.
Mr Reeves: It goes a very long
way to meeting concerns that UK ports had and indeed I have heard
them say that while they still do not welcome it, they think it
is something which is now workable.