A delay in implementing sulphur law will save jobs

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No potential environmental legislation should be dismissed out of hand, and that is certainly not what anyone is suggesting here.

The European Union’s aim of reducing sulphur emissions is an admirable one.

But the plans to introduce the new laws on January 1 next year could prove crippling for the companies trying to meet that deadline.

As The News has previously reported, Brittany Ferries has warned that attempting to comply with the new laws by the deadline could force them out of business.

Brittany does not appear to be idly dragging its heels or attempting to get out of complying with the law.

Steve Tuckwell, the firm’s director of communications, has said they intend to spend some £320m on converting their fleet to reduce emissions.

And with each ship taking three months to convert, it’s not an overnight job.

A report by AMEC into the impact of the introduction of the new laws before the technology is ready, makes for troubling reading.

It warns that 2,000 UK jobs could be at risk, and that the resulting transference of extra lorries onto the roads would result in an additional 12m tonnes of CO2 being emitted – this is hardly the outcome that the EU could have intended.

In Portsmouth’s case, this would translate to the loss of 100 jobs and the £10m that goes into the council’s coffers each year from the berthing fees at the port

MPs are due to debate the regulations in the House of Commons tomorrow, and both of the city’s MP are backing a delay in their implementation, with Penny Mordaunt due to speak on the matter.

At a time when the city is still reeling from BAE Systems pulling out of the dockyards, the loss of further big business would be crippling.

This is not a case of being pro- or anti-Europe, it is a case of calling for commonsense and a willingness of the bureaucrats in Brussels to listen to reason.