Pollution – For how long is Liverpool destined to be excluded from EU sulphur emission rules?


Some time ago, with the help of a local environmental campaigner, I published the posting above. Now moving on to the present day an article appeared in the Times newspaper on 16th February under the heading ‘£300m port aims to revive Liverpool’s glory days‘.

Seaforth Docks and hinterland

Seaforth Docks and hinterland

The article was all about the new river berth and the ability of the Port of Liverpool to be able to take the Post-Panamax size container ships. Of course this impacts on the ability of the road and rail infrastructure to and from Bootle/Seaforth to be able to cope with what will undoubtedly be increased traffic to and from the Port. More diesel trucks and indeed diesel trains can only increase air pollution and particulates in and around the docks and I have also commented on this aspect of the revitalisation of the docks previously.

Anyway, back to the Times article because buried in the middle of it is this:- ‘Liverpool is allowed to handle older, dirtier big boats because Britain’s west coast ports are not covered by the EU’s sulphur emissions rules that prevent such vessels going into other European ports’.

So there you have it, a worrying scenario indeed and it clearly begs the question, how long will it be before Britain’s west coast ports are included in the emission rules? Frankly, from my perspective, for any ports to be excluded is unacceptable. Please don’t hang the success of our local economic prosperity on us having lower environmental standards.

Deadly diesel – Air pollution – Diesel Particulates

This posting is very much based on information supplied to me by a Lydiate resident but it is a subject close to my heart on which I have posted a number of times previously via this site. My last posting is accessible via the link below:-


Page 11 of today’s Sunday Times refers to the 2001 decision to reduce tax on diesel vehicles under the heading ‘Labour admits tax blunder on deadly diesel’.


There is also Channel 4 Dispatches programme tomorrow at 8pm “The great car con”

Bootle Councillor Ian Maher talked about the deplorable death rates of Bootle residents during the often fractious debate at Sefton Council last Thursday about the Borough’s draft Local Plan and he was right to do so.

60,000 deaths a year in the UK are now being blamed on diesel exhaust emissions, I am told.

Although it’s cars, vans and taxis referred to in the Times, it should be remembered the high numbers of HGV’s travelling though Bootle each day to the Port of Liverpool. And of course the new Post Panamax traffic will add to this.

Although Sefton Medical authorities point to smoking as a cause of high rates of cancer in Bootle, an article read by the resident who provide this information to me, from university studies into diesel exhausts claims that diesel emissions can be masked by smoking.

Another study, so I am told, also points to HGV’s having their exhaust particulate filters removed. The resident speculates that perhaps HGV vehicles should have their exhaust emissions checked on entry to the port. Any vehicles found exceeding limits could lead to a fine/ban on owners.

There are some interesting and worrying issues here that fit with my own concerns based on things I have read. Indeed, I also recall some years ago that Merseytravel (the passenger transport authority for Merseyside) was considering a project to have diesel particulate filters added to the bus fleets operating across Merseyside. If memory serves correctly the bus companies were then resistant to the project because the filters increased diesel consumption.

I don’t claim to any kind of an expert of this matter but I have seen and heard enough to think that a significant public debate needs to had into the effects of diesel pollution and how the public can be protected from it.

Sulphur limits for fuel used by ships in the Irish Sea

I have recently been raising the issue of pollutants from diesel engines and whilst the thrust of most concerns about such engines is associated with cars and lorries it has to be remembered that here on Merseyside we also have to consider the effects of pollutants from ships visiting the Mersey.

The Mersey - Looking from Bootle over the River to the Wirral

The Mersey – Looking from Bootle over the River to the Wirral

A local environmental campaigner of my acquaintance has been looking in detail at pollutants from ships and he took the matter up with the Government. Below is the text of a letter that details the present and future pollutant levels as they affect the Irish Sea. It makes for interesting reading and my thanks go to Peter Greener of Lydiate for digging into this sooty subject.


Pollutant emissions from ships are regulated by Annex VI to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (commonly known as MARPOL), the latest, revised version of which was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in October 2008. The Government supports the limits in MARPOL Annex VI, which are designed to improve air quality and result in consequential benefits for public health and for the environment.

The current 1.0 per cent limit for sulphur in marine fuel in waters designated as Emission Control Areas (ECAs), will be replaced with a 0.10 per cent sulphur limit, which will apply from 1 January 2015. Within Europe, the only ECAs are the Baltic Sea and the North Sea (including the English Channel). In order to comply with the 0.10 per cent sulphur limit, ship owners can use low-sulphur fuel or an alternative compliance method, such as using an exhaust gas cleaning system or using an alternative fuel like liquefied natural gas (LNG). Outside the ECAs, the current 3.5 per cent sulphur limit for fuel will be replaced by a 0.5 per cent sulphur limit in 2020 unless the IMO’s review of fuel availability (which must be completed by 2018) indicates that sufficient compliant fuel would not be available, in which case the requirement may be deferred to 2025.

The sulphur provisions contained in MARPOL Annex VI are substantially mirrored in the EU Directive on sulphur content of marine fuels (amending Directive 2012/33/EU) which was adopted in 2012. The main differences with the European rules are that:

• The 0.5 per cent sulphur limit will apply to all ships in European waters operating outside the ECAs, including the Irish Sea, from 1 January 2020 (i.e. this limit will not be deferred until 2025);
• Since 2010, all ships at berth at a port in European waters, for more than 2 hours, have been required to use 0.1 per cent sulphur fuel (or equivalent); and
• Until 31 December 2019, passenger ships on regular services, operating in European waters outside of the ECAs, must use fuel which does not exceed 1.5 per cent sulphur. From 1 January 2020, the sulphur limit will decrease to 0.5 per cent (as it will for all ships in European waters operating outside the ECAs).
Under both MARPOL Annex VI and the EU Directive, there is a provision concerning the non-availability of compliant fuel. If a ship is found to be using non-compliant fuel and can demonstrate that no compliant fuel was available, then a State has discretion to take into account all relevant circumstances and the evidence presented to determine the appropriate action to take, including not taking control measures. In practice however, it is very unlikely that a ship operating outside an ECA will have any difficulty obtaining compliant 3.5 per cent sulphur fuel.
There is nothing to prevent a group of States applying to the IMO to have the adjoining sea to their shoreline designated as a sulphur ECA. When the UK was considering its application (along with all the other adjoining States) to have the North Sea designated as an ECA, the available evidence supported the case for adopting stricter sulphur limits in these waters. Due to the much lower traffic density and lower population density in the Irish Sea and northern UK waters, the Government considers there is less justification for designating these waters as an ECA. Submitting an application for a new ECA, or extending the existing North Sea sulphur ECA so that it encompasses all the seas around the UK would also need the support of the Irish Government.

The photo above is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

New pollution charges for diesel drivers?

Boris Johnson is considering plans to charge all diesel vehicle drivers an extra £10 to drive in central London while other cities across the country are looking urgently at ways to cut diesel fumes in order to comply with clean air rules from Europe. The EC launched legal proceedings against Britain in February for breaching air pollution limits. Defra has admitted that unless tougher action were taken London, Birmingham and Leeds would be exposed to dangerous air pollution from vehicle exhausts until the 2030s. London’s ‘ultra-low emission zone’ would also see petrol cars bought before 2006 charged the extra levy.

Picture c/o wikipedia

Picture c/o wikipedia

The Times & The Daily Telegraph carried this story recently.

This is an interesting environmental story because it is not so long ago that we were all in effect told that if we bought diesel powered cars it would reduce pollution. I was caught out by such bad advice and many other drivers were too. Now diesel powered vehicles are seen to be a pollution problem not a pollution solution.

I have posted before about air pollution in places like Bootle with ships and trucks going to and fro to the docks being a concern in addition to many private cars and vans being diesel powered. See link below:-