Policy Round-Up

Categories: NewsPublished On: March 25, 20222120 words64.2 min read

FROM the launch of new guidance to the return of international cruise, THE UK CHAMBER IS ALWAYS LOOKING



Offshore Renewables – Chamber Secures Concessions

The waters around the British Isles and UK Exclusive Economic Zone are leading the world globally in the development of offshore renewable energy, and targets set by UK Government for deployment of 40GW of offshore wind by 2030 could see in the region of 8,000 wind turbines built offshore.

The inevitable result of reduced sea room focuses the need to safeguard navigational safety to protect crews, vessels and their cargoes from undue, excessive or risk elevating deviation, and not stymie future growth in shipping and navigational routes.  The UK Chamber of Shipping continues to work diligently and constructively with developers of offshore renewable developments (wind, tidal, wave) and collaboratively with the MCA, Trinity House, Crown Estate, RYA and others.

As the number of developments going through planning increase, so too does the opportunity for conflict, and the Chamber secured two major concessions from offshore renewable developers in 2021.

Hornsea Four, the fourth part of the Hornsea complex being built east of the Humber in the North Sea, has significantly reduced its Red Line Boundary application to the Planning Inspectorate following lobbying efforts lead by the Chamber and with support from other maritime stakeholders, protecting vitally important internationally scheduled Ro-Ro services from significant deviation and delay. The concessions gained mean schedules can be retained and trade routes to the continent which are over 150 years old can be maintained.

The UK Chamber of Shipping also saw major concessions in the Irish Sea with the Morlais Tidal Project introducing zonal areas with minimum under-keel clearances which protect the safe navigation of UK to Eire Ro-Ro shipping routes, whilst also enabling the project to proceed.

The UK Chamber od Shipping welcomes and supports the proliferation of offshore renewables to decarbonise the UK, but calls for precaution and safeguarding of navigational safety and existing marine users.


Launch of the Second Edition of the Pilots’ Pocket Guide & Checklist

The British Tugowners Association in conjunction with the UK Maritime Pilots’ Association is pleased to launch the second edition of the Pilots’ Pocket Guide and Checklist via Witherby Seamanship.

Harbour towage is a potentially hazardous business and should not be undertaken unless there has been a proper assessment of the risks involved. Good communication by all parties, proper planning with an understanding of what can go wrong, and good seamanship are critical in ensuring that the risks are minimised. Thorough training and appropriate experience are also essential in ensuring that the professionals involved are competent. To assist in this process, this guide aims to support pilots and PEC holders in their daily tasks. It draws on industry best practice and uses checklists, coupled with guidance, to provide a handy pocket aide memoire for those responsible for directing tugs during harbour towage.

The second edition introduces a range of new content, including:

  • Greater emphasis on development of the pilotage plan for shared mental model between all crews
  • Improved two-stage checklists
  • Vessel familiarisation and liaison groupings
  • Closed-Loop Communications to protect against false mutual understandings for safety critical information
  • Value of briefings and de-briefings (work as done as compared to work as imagined)
  • Breaking down best practice by period of operation, eg Pre-Arrival or Making Fast and Manoeuvre
  • Correct reporting of dangerously weighted heaving lines
  • Importance of tow points and the risk of girting


Release of new guidance on Tow Ropes

The tow rope is the single most essential piece of equipment in the towage industry, providing the vital link between tug and tow, yet the British Tugowners Association found that the understanding of tow ropes, their capabilities and characteristics is not an exact science and historically the industry has followed the adage, ‘bigger is better’. The guidance dispels that myth and introduces a methodical framework for operators and rope manufacturers to use together to facilitate an informed discussion examining operational, environmental, and technical characteristics to find the optimal towing solution.

The cheapest rope is rarely the most affordable suitable rope in the real world, and purchasing choices appropriate for one vessel may be entirely unsuitable for another. The guidance aims to improve tow rope understanding and enhance safety by providing those involved in purchasing decisions with the ability to ask the right questions and seek quantitative answers from vendors and their colleagues at sea. The guidance also seeks to harmonise the language we use to describe the characteristics of a tow rope and the way information is recorded over the rope’s lifespan.


Approval of new apprenticeship for restricted vessel sector

The British Tugowners Association and other members of the small vessel fraternity strongly welcomed the approval for delivery of the Officer of the Watch <500gt Near Coastal apprenticeship in Autumn 2021. Restricted STCW certification, receiving no meaningful funding from SMarT or elsewhere, has long called for funded training pathways, and the OOW apprenticeship represents the start of this.

The trailblazer group, chaired by BTA and Chamber members Serco, is heartened by the approval in September 2021 of the Officer of the Watch <500gt Near Coastal apprenticeship. The apprenticeship, which has been given a funding band of £15,000 will provide a sorely needed funded training route to STCW certification for tugs, workboats, Border Force, yachts and the Royal Navy. Through a route which caters for a variety of sectors, there will be safety in numbers meaning greater security for training providers to offer the course.

It is hoped that further apprenticeships will follow with the submission to the IfA of the Small Vessel Engineer application in January 2022 for, hopefully, delivery Q2 2022, and the establishment of a Master <500gt Near Coastal trailblazer group getting development underway there.


Departure from the EU

Google Trends is a tool for understanding the relative evolving interest in a particular search item. It then provides a benchmark with 100 denoting a week with the most searches on a topic. An examination of the term ‘Brexit’ results in the graph below. Clearly, public interest has fallen considerably in 2021.

But this disinterest is not so for the Chamber. While the UK has officially left the EU, many of the effects of the departure in respect to custom controls were only been implemented on 1 January 2022. Therefore, Chamber members have been heavily involved in preparating for the changes throughout the last twelve months. The Chamber’s Custom Working Group have met weekly throughout Q4 2021, discussing with senior government officials on all aspects of import and export controls. Such discussions have led to significant policy changes, such as availability of custom control optionality to all modal types, the simplification of the movement of empty freight units, and provision of contingency arrangements to support operators. 

Such focused consideration has paid off. The policy changes made are pragmatic and address the key concerns of Chamber members and their ability to provide essential services for the UK economy. If the flow of goods was unimpeded in the early weeks of 2022, it is testament to the hard work of UK Chamber members.

And the work will continue into 2022. The 1st July 2022 will see the introduction of safety and security declarations for products of animal and plant origin and the full-operationalisation of Border Control Posts. And while the changes introduced on 1 January 2022 and in July are supported by the Chamber, they still represent a sub-optimal system for managing the import and export of goods into and from the UK. While 21st century techniques are used to process the data, the principles of the custom controls being introduced are essentially 19th century in their formation. To fully modernise the control of trade, the redefining of this principle is required.

The Government’s Future Borders strategy is one step in this redefinition, and the Chamber is contributing to various aspects of the strategy which will ensure the actions at the border are beneficial for both industry and the UK economy. In addition to preparations for July 2022, these border modernisations will become increasingly significant in the promotion of trade, and while searches on Google may not increase, the hard work of Chamber members will continue to deliver benefit for the UK.   

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M7 event

At the Chamber we are always looking for new ways to build consensus across the shipping community and in June last year we were delighted to see so many colleagues from around the world join us as we hosted the first ever M7 event.

The M7 was a new forum for the national ship owning associations of the G7 members. To match the invitation list for last year’s G7 we extended the invitation to Australia, India, South Africa and South Korea. The Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping Guy Platten, Chief Executive and Secretary General of BIMCO David Loosely and a representative from ECSA also joined the meeting.

During the two-hour virtual meeting Chaired by our President John Denholm, delegates discussed issues around digitalising documents to speed up trade, green R&D projects, the crew change crisis and seafarer vaccinations. There was agreement across all nations that more investment is needed from governments and industry to develop the technologies for a cleaner and greener shipping industry. It was an incredibly useful event and we look forward to it being continued by our G7 partners in the years to come.


Ferry and cruise

A key role the Chamber plays is representing the views of our members to government. We are here to lobby on behalf of the industry and that is exactly what we have been doing with our ferry and cruise members. At the beginning of Covid we secured a support package for our ferry companies to ensure freight could continue to flow into the country.

But for our cruise members, we had to wait far longer for the government to allow the cruise sector to resume sailing but after 16 months of pressure, lobbying and hundreds of meetings, the government finally confirmed at the beginning of August that international cruises could restart from England.

Domestic cruises had successfully run from May, but international cruises had been prohibited.

The Chamber developed new protocols to ensure the health and wellbeing of passengers and crew, making it the safest environment in the travel and hospitality sectors and our framework was even recognised by the UN. Throughout the process we worked incredibly closely with our members, CLIA and the wider cruise sector, demonstrating the strength of the collective when lobbying government.

Offshore vessels and rigs: Offshore Panel and the British Rig Owners’ Association (BROA)

2021 continued to present difficult trading and operational conditions for both offshore vessels and rigs. This was largely because of the impact of the Covid pandemic on crew changes and energy demand, especially in the first half of 2021. As Western economies opened up in the latter part of 2021, energy demand and prices shot up – but the arrival of Covid variants contributed greatly to price volatility. Critical policy developments for rig owners included enabling seafarers and offshore workers to travel, and the resumption of UK HSE inspection activity, as North Sea activity also picked up.
Regulatory issues that BROA has engaged with include helideck regulation, GHG emissions, lifeboat drills and the maintenance/verification of safety and environmentally critical elements. For the UK Chamber’s Offshore Panel, policy priorities this year have included developments on new ship construction/operational standards for the carriage of industrial personnel, crew changes, UK marine content in offshore wind, trade access, and offshore vessel GHG emissions.

London international shipping week

London International Shipping Week was a week full of wonderful events and great discussions and debate about the future of our industry.

The Chamber worked incredibly hard over many months with HM Treasury, DP World and Forth Ports for the official launch of Thames Freeport at an event at the Savoy Hotel in London. We were honoured to have both the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Transport Secretary attend the event with Rishi Sunak making the keynote speech.

Seafarer vaccination

Protecting seafarers has been a constant theme of the last 18 months and last summer the UK Chamber of Shipping  wrote to the Health Secretary and Transport Secretary asking them to do what they can to ensure seafarers of all nationalities are vaccinated when in the UK. In response to pressure from the UK Chamber, the NHS issued vaccination guidance targeted at local health authorities specifically on seafarer vaccination and as such local ports and health services are readily vaccinating seafarers of all nationalities. We continue to push the government for excess supplies of vaccinations to be allotted to maritime – specific vaccination hubs to help ensure the global seafaring community are protected from Coronavirus.