Consultation about safe disposal of time expired flares opened by MCA

The Department for Transport (DfT), in collaboration with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), has published a consultation about the safe disposal of time expired marine pyrotechnics (flares) from the pleasure boat sector. The consultation remains open until 15 March 2021.

The consultation seeks feedback to decide the next course of action when, in Dec 2021, the MCA’s current interim arrangements for flare disposal are set to end. The consultation doesn’t hold back in assessing where the problem of who pays for the pollution has arisen, saying the industry has failed to organise itself effectively.

According to the consultation, the sector’s multiple reasons for failing to engage in developing an effective range of solutions for flare disposal, does not justify its continued failure “to respond, as other sectors have, and to properly and responsibly address the management and safe disposal of its own waste.”

DfT says it is aware that a range of alternative schemes and services have been explored and attempted by different parts of the industry. There have been moderately successful crowd-funding initiatives around the UK, more usually known as ‘amnesties’ (often taking place as part of marine safety days) aimed at encouraging owners to hand in their redundant flares. Plus, trade and industry organisations have attempted to encourage the small and medium businesses within the sector to offer a collection service and to establish contracts with disposal companies, but, as Dft says, “none of these schemes appear to have gained much traction within the wider boat-owning community.”

The MCA previously agreed to provide an interim last-resort solution to the flare disposal problem – but that was a decade ago – and neither DfT nor the MCA has any statutory duty to provide such a service.

The new proposal being put forward is for an industry-led, self-regulated disposal service that complies with existing legislation and offers an opportunity for small regional businesses to tailor a disposal service that meets local needs.

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