Time running out on MCA flares disposal service

The issue of flare disposal has been a source of frustration for recreational boaters since the carriage and storage regulations changed and the MoD Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Teams routine collection service from HM Coastguard Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres (MRCC) and other collection points was withdrawn. 

It is illegal to dump flares at sea, illegal to dump them on land and illegal to let them off in anything other than an emergency.

The Department for Transport (DfT) held an open consultation in 2021 to seek the views of the pleasure vessel community in the UK on the disposal of out-of-date flares. The conclusion of the consultation resulted in the decision that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s (MCA) voluntary public-facing out-of-date flare disposal service would be withdrawn at the end of 2022. 

Since the end of the consultation the RYA has been involved in a Government led working group which has been engaging with the boating industry to establish a national network of local schemes. This network is intended to offer an accessible and reliable route for boatowners to dispose of out-of-date flares. 

Progress towards an accessible and reliable route for boatowners to dispose of out of date flares has been seemingly slow. With the MCA’s out-of-date flares disposal service set to cease at the end of this year, disposing of time expired flares may become even more difficult, at least for a time, until the national network of local schemes is realised. 

Ultimately, the responsibility for the safe disposal of out-of-date flares rests with their owner. The RYA is therefore encouraging anyone with time expired flares to dispose of them responsibly prior to the end of 2022. 

You can find further information on how to safely disposal of out of date flares on the RYA Safety hub. 

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