Compulsory carriage of flares is outdated, says RYA

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has this week responded to an open consultation, launched by the Department of Transport (DfT), on the disposal of pyrotechnic flares.

The consultation, ‘Future arrangements for the disposal of maritime pyrotechnics’ was launched in February and concluded earlier this month. The consultation sought views from the UK pleasure vessel community concerning future arrangements for the safe and responsible disposal of marine pyrotechnics.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) currently offer a ‘last-resort’ service of receiving out-of-date flares at 18 designated and licensed sites across the country. This service was initially offered by the MCA as a temporary solution and the consultation was held by DfT with the aim of finding a practical alternative.

FlaresRespondents to the consultation were asked to comment on the following four options proposed by DfT:

  • Allowing the current contract between the MCA and a commercial ordnance company that disposes of flares to expire with no further action.
  • Continuation of the existing disposal service offered by the MCA.
  • Creation of a fully regulated framework for disposal of flares which would track flares from production to disposal.
  • Creation of similar existing disposal arrangements by the pleasure vessel industry (DfT’s preferred option).

It is the RYA’s long-standing view that the compulsory carriage of flares by recreational boaters is an outdated and ineffective approach to maritime safety. This requirement is what directly creates the problem of disposal. The RYA’s main case for the removal of the compulsory carriage is both the technological advances in alternative equipment, and the inherent lack of reliability and effectiveness that the flares provide.

Phil Horton, RYA Environment and Sustainability Manager, said: “Modern technology such as radios, phones and other satellite connected technologies provide safer, affordable and significantly more reliable alternatives to pyrotechnic flares. It is disappointing that this consultation does not consider removing mandatory carriage requirements as part of the solution as, in our opinion, that is the only viable way ahead.

“However, should the MCA continue to require the carriage of flares, then the RYA’s view is that extended producer responsibility is the only reasonable solution for their safe disposal. A levy on the purchase of new flares, and a requirement for vendors to recover out-of-date product, would ensure that industry addresses the issue.”

Read more about the Government’s survey here

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