Brussels takes UK to task over ship-source pollution

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The European Commission is to take the UK to the Court of Justice for failure to respect EU legislation on ship-source pollution and on penalties for those responsible for polluting discharges. It also decided to send a reasoned opinion to the UK authorities for incorrectly transposing into national law legislation on the European vessel traffic monitoring system.

According to Brussels sources, the UK has failed to notify its national measures fully transposing Directive 2005/35/EC[1], a piece of legislation which aims at ensuring that all persons responsible for polluting discharges at sea are subject to adequate penalties. These penalties should be effective and dissuasive and may be of criminal or administrative nature, the Commission claimed. “Their application to any person found responsible for an infringement is expected to enhance the protection of the marine environment from pollution by ships and to improve maritime safety. Member States should have transposed the Directive into their national law by 1 April 2007.”

Brussels also claimed that the UK has also failed to correctly transpose Directive 2002/59/EC[2] on ship monitoring. This Directive aims at enhancing the safety of maritime traffic by improving the response of authorities to incidents, accidents and potentially dangerous situations at sea and thus contribute to a better prevention and detection of pollution by ships. The Directive is an essential part of the second maritime package adopted in the wake of the Erika disaster. It should have been transposed by 1 May 2004.The Commission found fault in the UK provisions relating to the exclusion of all fishing vessels and traditional ships from the scope of the Directive.