The Department for Transport is asking for responses before 15 March and proposes a ‘polluter pays’ concept, pointing to other industries that produce waste.
In those instances, the DfT says “industry itself is legally required to have in place effective mechanisms and processes that facilitate the safe management, containment, storage and disposal of such items…and for which they’re usually obliged to pay.”
“It’s perhaps not unreasonable, therefore, to encourage the recreational boating sector to adopt a similar approach in disposing of its own waste products,” the consultation says.
The objective, in the DfT’s favoured option, would be to “promote and encourage the safe and responsible disposal of [flares] by offering the boat-owning community a range of easily accessible and appropriate options to dispose of their flares through a recognised and competent disposal system, for which the boating community – rather than the government – ought to pay. Such an approach would be consistent with the government’s ‘polluter pays’ principle.”
The DfT includes other options, which include the regulation and licensing of flare sale and ownership.
Robert Courts, MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, writes: “Irresponsible disposal or abandonment of marine pyrotechnics is illegal, and such actions present a health and safety hazard to the public.”
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has voluntarily provided a free flare disposal service to all leisure boat owners for a number of years through 17 of their Coastguard stations, plus through the RNLI in Poole.
When the service was first launched, the MCA was receiving about 60,000 flares per year; in 2018, they received only 12,000. The consultation says the flare service has the potential to impact on MCA rescue capabilities, in terms of cost. It is also a less than satisfactory service for sailors, who may have to travel some distance and book an appointment.
The current situation came about when the Ministry of Defence withdrew its explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) service. The MCA agreed to provide an interim service, but the marine industry was asked to develop its own solution. The contract that the MCA has in place with a commercial ordnance company will come to an end in December 2021.
The consultation estimates there are about 360,000 flares in circulation during any one three-year period.
“The [marine] industry has so far failed to organise itself in such a way as to be able to offer the extremely diverse boat-owning community robust options and solutions that work across the UK. Indeed, evidence suggests that some pleasure vessel owners take the easy option of dumping their redundant flares at sea or elsewhere around the UK coast,” the consultation says.
You can read the full consultation document and reply here
Read the RYA’s advice on flares here
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