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Oiled wildlife response and responders in the UK

Sea Alarm attended the 2010 meeting of UK Standing Environment Group chairs in London on 3 June. Saskia Sessions was able to make a presentation introducing Sea Alarm to the SEG Chairs new to their posts, explaining our role, recent developments in oiled wildlife response in Europe and to explore possible UK activities in oiled wildlife preparedness. Sea Alarm is normally invited to attend these meetings which are organised each year by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (authors and coordinators of the national contingency plan for oil spill incidents). As part of this national plan, the UK’s Environment Group is charged with providing environmental advice to decision-makers during an oil spil, including how oiled wildlife response would be mobilised and put into operation. There are also 16 regional Standing Environment Groups (or SEGs) in place, which are ready to provide coordinated environmental advice for their area to the incident command.

In addition to local authorities, the SEGs also have representatives from the UK statutory nature conservation bodies and key NGOs such as the RSPCA and SSPCA. These two charities would normally form the backbone of a large-scale oiled wildlife response  in the UK, with RSPCA operating in England and SSPCA operating in Scotland. During the trip, Saskia was also able to visit SSPCA’s Middlebank Wildlife Rescue Centre in Dunfermline. Ways of strengthening operational links between these two organisations were discussed, particularly for oiled wildlife incidents which may cross the English-Scottish border.

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