MP appeals to ministers over Napoli

PUBLISHED: 13:12 29 March 2009 | UPDATED: 08:51 18 June 2010

IMPORTANT lessons must be learned from the beaching of the Napoli, East Devon MP Hugo Swire told ministers this week. Speaking in a parliamentary debate on Tuesday, he said the chaos that followed the grounding of the 62,000 ton container ship just off

IMPORTANT lessons must be learned from the beaching of the Napoli, East Devon MP Hugo Swire told ministers this week.

Speaking in a parliamentary debate on Tuesday, he said the "chaos" that followed the grounding of the 62,000 ton container ship just off the coast of Branscombe in January 2007, was evidence enough to compel the Government into changing legislation and to tackle the "problems" which occurred.

Mr Swire, who arranged the debate after reading the findings of the inquiry set up by Devon County Council, spoke of the ransacking and "scenes of looting" which plagued the small village.

He did not want to "apportion blame" but instead highlighted the changes which needed to happen in order for another disaster to be averted.

He told the commons: "While we have a successful system in place for disasters at sea, at present we simply have no clear understanding as to who is in overall control of land operations when a ship comes ashore."

Mr Swire suggested that if there had been a leader on land from the outset, who could direct operations "the scenes of looting and ransacking could have been, if not completely averted, at least controlled and contained".

He also said it was a "disgrace" that the Government did not hold a public inquiry and instead DCC had to pay £22,000 out of its own budget to pay for it.

An "urgent need" to address salvage laws as current legislation led to uncertainty in the aftermath of the disaster, was also a main point in the debate.

He told ministers: "The looting that took place in the days that followed the beaching of the Napoli caused an astonishing 800 per cent more damage than the accident caused.

"The police, who were unsure about the law of salvage, refused to close access to the beach until legal advice had been obtained."

He went on to repeat a recommendation made by the inquiry that the Government should make a commitment to reimburse the massive costs of handling the aftermath of an incident such as the Napoli.

In conclusion, he called for the Government to take action and listen to the findings of the inquiry:

"The beaching of the Napoli was an event that highlighted serious deficiencies in many aspects of dealing with such an occurrence and that is why action must be taken now; this report must be heeded.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Sidmouth Herald