DORSET Wildlife Trust claims that 10 oil tankers sitting in Lyme Bay, waiting for oil prices to rise, are “an accident waiting to happen”.
Tankers parked off the coast near Brixham are thought to be earning oil speculators £1 million per day.
The AA and the RAC claim that motorists will end up paying more for petrol because of hoarding by suppliers.
Conservationists are worried about what might happen to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site of Dorset and East Devon.
Dorset Wildlife Trust Chief Executive Simon Cripps said: “This is an accident waiting to happen. Even a minor spill or accident would devastate one of the world’s most valuable and sensitive coasts, killing animals and plants and ruining livelihoods for years. This is not a NIMBY approach, this is common-sense risk management. You wouldn’t allow a 1 million tonne oil tank on the banks of the River Frome.”
The Trust says that when the oil tanker Prestige broke up on the north Spanish coast in 2002, it took years for the coast and its communities to recover and to rebuild a reputation for healthy seafood and unpolluted tourism.
Mr Cripps continued: “The shipping companies should take this Sword of Damocles away from our coast and place these tankers more responsibly in safe harbours such as Portland, or better still take them away from sensitive areas. A million pounds profit per day buys you a lot of responsible corporate behaviour. We would like to see regulations to prevent them from threatening such important areas in the future.”
However, a UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman told Sky News Online the tankers were not a new sight in Lyme Bay and were not a major concern.
“This has been going on for a long time due to the geographical location – it’s like the Clapham Junction of oil storage,” he said.
“It’s a day-to-day business for us and in fact, in some of the daily bulletins sent out by the local coastguard they even list some of the vessels that are staying put.
“We do know that if you add it all up there is millions of pounds worth of oil floating out there,” he added.