Motorbikes and oily birds

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Martin Harper's blog

I’ve been the RSPB’s Conservation Director since May 2011. As I settle into the job, I’ll be blogging on all the big conservation topics and providing an inside view of our conservation projects. I hope you enjoy reading it and feel inspired to join in t

Motorbikes and oily birds

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Stop press – some good news in today!

 Just over 4 years after the event, we’ve finally been compensated for expenses incurred by our response to the Napoli incident, back in January 2007. For most people the enduring image from the Napoli incident might be the cargo looting that took place on Branscombe beach, with opportunists rolling away full kegs of beer, and dragging out brand new motorbikes from the containers that were washed ashore after the Napoli was beached.

But for us what sticks in the mind most is the toll on local bird life – with thousands of oiled birds as a result of the incident (just over 2,200 were counted by our staff and volunteers during the event – but many more will never have been spotted). And this is from a minor incident that spilt very little oil, certainly no Deepwater Horizon...

While our ‘compensation’ does not exactly cover our actual expenditure over the event, and certainly doesn’t cover the effects on local birdlife, it’s great to know that there is at least a process in place to make the polluter pay. This is something that just wouldn’t have happened in the past – so we’re pleased to have stuck with the cost recovery process, even if it did take 4 years, making our point that all the efforts to deal with the environmental impacts of the Napoli deserve recognition and recompense. It wasn’t just about the motorbikes.

  • Thanks for this Redkite - as far as we are aware, the Oliva's insurance company, a Norwegian firm, have been and will be picking up all the costs of the clean-up operation.  So yes, the polluter will pay.  

    And as for signposting to my blog - apparently we are having a few teething problems and this is on the snagging list.

  • That's good news Martin. Is the legislation that enabled some cost recovery to be achieved in this case just applicable nationally or is it applicable internationally? For example, can that the cost of helping the poor penguins on Tristan da Cunha's Nightingale Island due to the ship wreck and major oil spill there recently be recovered under the same process?

    PS they have certainly hidden your blog away under this new arrangement. It took some finding.

  • Think in a way we are all responsible for these accidents as it is easy to blame company's and individuals but we all demand the products that they transport etc and surely almost without exception all company's and individuals do all they can to avoid what is after all accidental pollution.