Pollution laws threat to Portsmouth ferry firms

Tug boats from HM Naval Base Portsmouth lead the Brittany Ferry Normandie out of  Portsmouth Harbour as she takes vaterans to France for D-Day 70.
Tug boats from HM Naval Base Portsmouth lead the Brittany Ferry Normandie out of Portsmouth Harbour as she takes vaterans to France for D-Day 70.
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CALLS have been made to delay anti-pollution regulations over fears of ferry fare hikes and job losses in the city.

It comes as Brittany Ferries asks Portsmouth’s MPs to help highlight the impact it says the low sulphur rules will have on its business if they come into force as planned in January 2015.

Steve Tuckwell, director of communications and Portsmouth port operations for the firm said it had plans to spend around £320m on changing its fleet to reduce emissions.

But he said the ships would take three months each to convert, making it impossible to meet the January 1 deadline.

He said: ‘The only way we can comply is to burn diesel. That will increase our fuel bill by 60 per cent, which will mean we’d probably have to look at our routes and fares would go up dramatically.

‘It’s a three-month job to change the engine, they have to open it up.’

Three ships are due to be fitted with sulphur scrubbers and the firm plans to buy a new ship with liquefied natural gas for around £187m. Three other ships will be fitted with LNG.

As reported there were fears the firm could fold when the regulations came in, sapping £10m from the city council’s coffers in berthing fees and leading to around 100 job losses. Mr Tuckwell said this was the ‘worse-case scenario’.

The UK Chamber of Shipping is holding a week of action on the subject, with MPs due to debate the rules in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

It says manufacturers will turn to road transport if shipping prices increase, which would mean problems for the country’s road network and pollution.

Mike Hancock, Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South, wrote to the Department for Transport ahead of the debate. In it he said the regulations are a ‘major concern’ to the commercial port.

‘All this can be avoided if there is a short delay to allow the new technology to come in,’ he wrote.

‘I understand that other European countries share these concerns.

‘This is an opportunity for the British to show leadership within the EU and to see some commonsense prevails.’

Portsmouth North Tory MP Penny Mordaunt hopes to speak at the debate.

She told The News: ‘This should be a time of growth for the port – in both tourism and freight trade with the enhancements to the port. We must ensure that there are no inhibitors.’

The International Maritime Organisation agreed measures in 2008. But the UK Chamber of Shipping said the EU removed any flexibility on implentation.