Disposal of Marine Pyrotechnics from Pleasure Vessel Sector to Change

Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Published Oct 13, 2022 2:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

[By: Maritime & Coast Agency]

'The industry is helping and supporting HM Coastguard by making sure we can be fully focussed on saving lives at sea'

New arrangements for disposing of redundant marine pyrotechnics, known as flares, are being rolled out by the pleasure vessel industry.

This will replace the voluntary and temporary scheme which Her Majesty’s Coastguard has been providing since 2010 from 17 of its stations and the RNLI at its headquarters in Poole, Dorset. 

The new arrangements, supported by both British Marine and the Royal Yachting Association, will provide a website showing links to businesses offering disposal services across the United Kingdom. 

On the 31 December 2022, the current HM Coastguard scheme will end  and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has been working with Department for Transport and the sector to find a service of the same standard to replace it.

Claire Hughes, Director of Her Majesty’s Coastguard, the frontline emergency service of the MCA said she welcomed the innovative approach from the industry.

She said: “This is a very important breakthrough and I’m very grateful to British Marine and the Royal Yachting Association together with the wider marine and waste disposal industries for working to find and provide a solution to this ongoing challenge.

“Providing disposal services for these redundant marine pyrotechnics is really important as they can put public safety and the marine and coastal environment at risk.

“Also, by doing this, the industry is helping and supporting HM Coastguard by making sure we can be fully focussed on saving lives at sea and supporting coastal communities in making our coast and waters a safer place for all.” 

The new arrangements, which will continue to build over time, will offer solutions to not only boatowners, but also provide guidance and advice to businesses, such as yachting and boating clubs, chandlers, marinas and boatyards, who may see business opportunities in offering their members and customers local solutions.

Although HM Coastguard will continue to receive old flares from the public until the end of the year, the new arrangements will be in operation from now to provide an overlap and resilience.

Marine pyrotechnics (flares) are used by users of pleasure vessels in order to raise the alarm and alert others should they get into difficulties at sea.

Because they are, for the purposes of the law, classified as explosives (under HSE’s Explosives Act, 2014), private individuals must make sure that they dispose of redundant flares safely and responsibly.

HM Coastguard has offered a voluntary service for disposing of flares for more than 10 years which is free to users, but costs the general taxpayer in excess of £230k annually; Seventeen coastguard sites (plus the RNLI Headquarters, located in Poole, Dorset) were originally selected as suitable for offering such a service due to their location and infrastructure; However, changes in technical requirements mean that they may not, in time, continue to meet legal requirements.

The industry led solution is funded entirely within the sector. DfT and MCA have provided support and guidance to ensure that the profile of such services become more clearly visible to those with flares to dispose of. 

The products and services herein described in this press release are not endorsed by The Maritime Executive.