NAPOLI: Inquiry committee members named

PUBLISHED: 09:08 19 July 2008 | UPDATED: 22:05 15 June 2010

MEMBERS of the committee who will sit with chairman Professor Ian Mercer in the Public Inquiry into the beaching of the MSC Napoli, have been announced by Devon County Council.

MEMBERS of the committee who will sit with chairman Professor Ian Mercer in the Public Inquiry into the beaching of the MSC Napoli, have been announced by Devon County Council. They are Devon County Councillor Richard Westlake, Devon County Councillor David Cox and East Devon District Councillor Chris Gibbings. Maritime experts will also assist the committee. Chairman Professor Ian Mercer, CBE, was the independent chairman of the Devon Foot and Mouth Inquiry in 2001, the first and only major public inquiry into the epidemic and the first of its kind to be organised by local government.Professor Mercer said: "We have put together an excellent committee who I believe will bring insight and robust questioning to the matter at hand. Many of the 2001 Inquiry's findings were subsequently adopted by the Government in its national contingency planning for animal outbreaks, and I am confident the results of this inquiry will hold similar weight in the highest quarters."The Inquiry will attempt to register the lessons that have already been learned by all those involved since the Napoli began its voyage eastwards, and expose those which remain to be addressed. Its report should be aimed at all levels of emergency planning and the implementation of such plans. It must specifically examine:· Decision-making and consultation during the towing voyage and before beaching · The tension between marine emergency and protecting the coast · Containment of cargo adrift at the wreck and then on the beach · The adequacy of maritime law, codes and conventions in the Napoli situation, and especially those relating to container traffic· The handling of all aspects of the incident on land · The relations between all agencies involved and the command and control on land (to low water mark) · The impact of the whole incident and its aftermath on local lives and livelihoods It will also take into account: · The impact of the incident on the local economy, environment and well being of local communities· The effectiveness of the various agencies involved in responding to the incident, their areas of responsibility, their inter-relationship and relationship with local communities, and identify any constraints such as resources, communications, command and control systems and training.Councillor Brian Greenslade, the Leader of Devon County Council, said: "The setting up of the committee is the final structural stage before getting down to the work of going through all the pieces of evidence. I am confident we have a range of thoroughly capable people in place, and that this will be an extremely valuable piece of work."The findings of the committee will be made public and shared locally and nationally with local government and with Ministers. Local authorities, Government departments and agencies, businesses and landowners, communities, their elected representatives, environmental and conservation bodies and members of the public have been contributing their views for the past few months.All the evidence will be catalogued and prepared for the Chairman and Committee, who will then invite witnesses to recount or expand upon their written submissions at hearings in public in early November.

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