Britain and Germany are at loggerheads over plans to let Royal Dutch Shell abandon oil platform legs in the North Sea.

The Times can reveal that last month the government endorsed the oil major’s plans to leave the concrete legs of three platforms and the steel footings of a fourth at the Brent field, about 186km northeast of Shetland.

It did so despite serious environmental and safety concerns raised by Germany, which claims that the British assessment process may be biased in favour of dumping at sea, according to documents obtained by Unearthed, the investigative unit of Greenpeace, the campaign group.

The German environment minister has written to Michael Gove, the environment secretary, urging the UK to reconsider.

Britain and Germany are among 16 signatories…