'A devastating impact on our local environment': Response to Poole Harbour oil spill

27 March 2023

BCP Green Party notes with sadness and anger the oil spill which took place in Poole Harbour on Sunday 26 March 2023. A major incident has been declared, and the spill will have a devastating impact on our local environment as well as those who live near and work on the harbour.

Ben Pantling, BCP Green Party speaker for Poole, said: “Poole Harbour is a nationally important haven for wildlife. This was recognised in 2019 when the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) designation was increased by 1,800 hectares - all of which is now endangered by this oil leak. Studland Bay, just around the corner, is one of the most important breeding sites in Europe for spiny seahorses and vital for the future of the species. The full extent of the damage from this spill may not be known for a long time.”

Simon Bull, Green Party Councillor for Winton East commented: “There is no excuse for this. Perenco, the owners of the pipeline, need to be held to account, the suitability of their extraction processes questioned and their licence reviewed.

When Perenco took over the Wytch Farm oil field from BP in 2011 the site had already been extracting oil since 1979. It was scheduled to close in 2016 but Perenco managed to get an extension of the licence until 2037 – far beyond the original decommissioning date. There have been other incidents at this site including an onshore oil spill in 2013 which contaminated 10,000sqm of land and a hydrochloric acid leak in 2020.”

Chris Rigby, Green Party Councillor for Winton East and Chair of BCP Green Party added: “This incident is in our back yard where we can see the damage up close, in crystal clear definition. But it’s important to remember that the industry considers leaks and spills of this nature as the acceptable risks of oil extraction. This is particularly relevant at the present time, when the Government is considering giving the green light to the controversial Rosebank oil field in the North Sea. The latest International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released just last week, clearly shows that we need to stop all oil extraction immediately and prioritise clean, cheap, renewable energy.”