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Offshore Helicopter Safety — [Sir Henry Bellingham in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:31 pm on 6th February 2019.

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Photo of Kirsty Blackman Kirsty Blackman Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Economy), SNP Deputy Leader 3:31 pm, 6th February 2019

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair in Westminster Hall, Sir Henry, and I commend Alex Cunningham for securing this debate.

This is a difficult debate to have, and those hon. Members who have spoken about their families and about personal incidents have been incredibly brave. The numbers are staggering: 38 workers and flight crew have been killed since 1997. Their families and friends have lost somebody they loved—people have lost colleagues, friends and family members. Colin Clark spoke about the importance to our constituencies of the oil and gas industry and those who fly in helicopters, and everybody in and around Aberdeen knows someone who has been affected by this issue. Our thoughts are with those who have been affected, particularly if this debate raises issues that perhaps they were trying not to think about at this moment in time.

In addition to fatal incidents, there have been 16 non-fatal incidents, and it is important to take those seriously as well and to consider what caused them. The difference between a fatal and a non-fatal incident can be small and involve just a slightly different thing happening, and it is important that any assessment considers what happened during an incident, why it happened in the first place, and why it did not lead to fatalities.

I was a city councillor in Aberdeen when the events of April 2009 unfolded. Social media was already a thing, although it was not quite as widely used as it is now, and we began to see events unfolding. I remember watching in absolute horror during those events, and again in 2013. Everybody was terrified that any future incident would be a repeat of what happened in 2009, and in 2013 we saw that those fears were well-founded.