Drill activity in the Central and Northern areas of the North Sea has created deposits of drill cuttings on the seabed at the drilling sites. Many of these deposits are contaminated with oil used during the drilling process. The environmental significance of these deposits needs to be established and consideration needs to be given to the best environmental practice in dealing with this legacy of drilling activity. It is not known if the best environmental practice will be to leave the deposits in place or to remove them. If removal is the best option then equipment will need to be developed to do this. These issues have the potential to initiate a confrontation debate between the oil and gas industry, academics, regulators and environmental pressure groups. In recognition that such issues must be handled differently post Brent Spar the U.K. Offshore Operators Association have initiated a programme of research and development which will not only address the scientific and technical issues but will also involve all stakeholders in an open and transparent process to address the issues such that the Best Environmental Practice can be identified and the Best Available Techniques be developed. It is believed that the process being adopted by the industry is unique and could form the model for the resolution of other environmental and publicly sensitive issues.

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