A CAMPAIGN by ferry firms to postpone the introduction of crippling new fuel rules has been given the backing of Portsmouth City Council.
Both Brittany Ferries and DFDS have been petitioning the British and French governments to ask the European Union to delay new anti-pollution regulations until 2020.
The aim of the new rule is to reduce fuel sulphur levels from 3.5 per cent to 0.1 per cent by 2015.
Those levels are specifically for the heavily-congested English Channel, North Sea, and Baltic Sea which are Sulphur Emissions Control Areas.
Brittany Ferries says the new rules will see its fuel costs soar by 60 per cent to more than £100m a year.
That would have the knock-on effect that it might have to reduce its services from Portsmouth – or scrap them altogether.
If that happened, Portsmouth City Council would lose the £10m it gets from the firm every year.
Council leader Gerald Vernon Jackson said he has met his counterpart in Caen, Portsmouth’s twin city on the north coast of France, to liaise in the lobbying effort.
He said: ‘I talked to the mayor of Caen, who’s also a member of France’s National Assembly, and he agreed to talk to the appropriate French government minister about this.
‘We will set up a meeting between the French and UK ministers about a five-year moratorium on this regulation, to give Brittany Ferries time to get new ships built or adapt existing ones.
‘We want the same deal as operators in the Irish Sea, who are not subject to the same regulation, so we can compete on a level playing field. That’s why we need the British and French governments to work together.’
Brittany Ferries says it has no problem with the principle of the regulations but the timescale for implementing them is too tight’
While it might be able to fit sulphur scrubbers on its ships, which travel between Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth to the continent, it said there was no proof the scrubbers will reduce the sulphur content in the fuel.
As a result, the companies will have to pay for the more expensive low-sulphur fuel, while they quickly build new ships with new technology that means they can be powered on liquefied natural gas (LNG).