West Midlands UKIP MEP Mike Nattrass has come under Lib Dem fire after he voted against an EU plan to raise safety standards for offshore oil and gas drilling, including the North Sea.

WS offshore-oil-rigThe new directive, which a majority of MEPs in the European Parliament voted to support, will ensure that all countries involved in offshore drilling now follow much higher safety and environmental standards.

The move is intended to stop any disastrous oil leaks such as the huge slick caused by a broken BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

The change will bring standards across Europe in line with the tougher standards already in place with the UK.

Lib Dem MEP Phil Bennion said:

"Mike Nattrass and I are both MEPs for the West Midlands, an inland region, but that is no reason not to support higher safety standards for oil drilling on both sides of the seas around Britain.

"Higher EU standards are good news both for both safety and the environment.

"It is difficult to understand how UKIP MEPs can justify voting against such an important measure to prevent potentially disastrous pollution costing billions of pounds in clean-up and compensation and causing long term damage to marine life.

"Are UKIP suggesting that only regulations on the British side of the North Sea matter?

"The sea is international, so laws against polluting it also have to be international."