To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has to bring forward legislative proposals requiring unexploded munitions on the seafloor to be disposed of by the process of deflagration as used by the Royal Navy and recommended by a BEIS funded study on the Characterisation of acoustic fields generated by UXO removal, published June 2020.
The Government recognise the potential for significant impact of underwater noise from unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance on vulnerable marine species and is taking active steps to manage and reduce the risk. Two phases of a Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) funded project to characterise and contrast the acoustic fields generated by UXO clearance using high order detonation and using low-order deflagration have been completed and reported on.
A third phase has now been initiated to further improve the information base, allowing further assessment of the clearance options. A potential 4th phase of the work involving offshore field work is also being actively explored in which comparative noise measurements would be made during actual UXO clearance campaigns using both deflagration and high order detonations. This would require cooperation and active support from industry (windfarm developers) and the regulatory authorities.
The outcomes from the 3rd and 4th phases would allow an informed discussion and consideration of the adequacy of evidence by regulatory authorities and the Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies. It will be for the regulatory authorities and the Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies to consider the best available scientific evidence when providing advice on these matters.