A European lawyer's view of the Government response to the Donaldson Report
The Report of Lord Donaldson's Inquiry into the Prevention of Pollution from Merchant Shipping, of May 1994, discussed here, is a document of the first rank of importance for all those interested in shipping safety and the prevention of ship-source pollution. The UK Government is called upon to take a lead internationally, regionally and nationally in these interrelated fields, and its first published response, issued in February 1995, and many of its initiatives, examined here, suggest that it has, for once, heeded the cries of a major inquiry. In doing so, however, as is explained, it must constantly take into account major developments in the European Community. While finally, many new ideas and approaches are embraced or are being further considered by the Government, it is argued here that the whole process, by keeping strictly within the bounds of existing international law and by emphasising voluntarism (indeed, restricting strict enforcement actions to mere measures of last resort), it is somewhat behind international trends, manifested in the acceptance of the principle of mandatory ships' routeing and ship reporting systems and in the current debate on development of the Particularly Sensitive Sea Area concept.
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