Marine pollution Act passed amid criticism over salvage tugs

The Merchant Shipping and Maritime Security Act 1997 reached the statute book in late March after being rushed through the House of Commons in just five weeks.1 The legislation survived its concluding stages almost unamended, but the Government came under fire for refusing to provide additional emergency salvage tugs around the coast, designate environmentally sensitive areas to be avoided by shipping, and establish public registers of breaches of marine pollution legislation. But the debates also revealed that Labour is just as unlikely to impose charges on ships and ports to pay for salvage tugs and other pollution services until other European states do so.

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