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New chapter for safe disposal of marine flares from the pleasure boat sector

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New chapter for safe disposal of marine flares from the pleasure boat sector

Claire Hughes

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is to work with industry to develop local self-regulated schemes for the safe disposal of redundant pyrotechnics (flares) from the pleasure vessel sector. 

It follows a consultation (which concluded on 15 March) with the industry, industry regulators and boat-owners to seek ways considered acceptable to all for the effective means of disposing of flares. 

The MCA supported a proposal for an industry-led, self-regulated disposal service that complies with existing legislation. It was also felt this was an opportunity for small regional businesses to tailor a disposal service that meets local needs, enabling an effective geographical spread of options available to boat-owners. 

Now the results of the six-week consultation have been published, the Government will engage with those in the sector, who through the consultation said that they were willing to engage and support the development and delivery of such a set of schemes.  

These are also people who have also offered to put forward their own solutions to provide an easy to access, well publicised route for pleasure boat owners to dispose of redundant flares. 

As the MCA service is gradually withdrawn, the industry-led one will start to take over, ensuring a smooth transition from one to the other. 

Director of HM Coastguard Claire Hughes said: “We knew from the outset that most vessel owners would want to have the kind of scheme that was local to home and would not involve a lot of travelling and the consultation has confirmed that. 

“Marine pyrotechnics have traditionally been a vital means of raising the alarm for mariners when they have run into difficulty or have an emergency at sea. 

“These devices must be safely and responsibly disposed of when expired or damaged. Irresponsible disposal or abandonment of flares is illegal and such action could lead to risks to public health and safety as well as to the marine environment, equipment or property.

“We look forward to engaging with the sector to develop a solution that both meets its needs and complies with the law and which provides boat-owners themselves with an easily accessible, well signposted route.” 

The current service was put in place as an interim measure to allow for industry to develop a long-term solution and has been provided for free to pleasure boat owners by the MCA since 2010. Redundant flares can currently be taken to 17 coastguard stations around the UK plus the RNLI station in Poole, Dorset. 

The contract held by the MCA with an ordnance disposal company is now due to expire which is why future arrangements need to be put in place. 

You can read the full published consultation results here:  https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/disposal-of-pleasure-vessel-marine-flares

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