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Government seeks to improve conditions for ship recycling

A new strategy outlining the changes needed to improve the conditions in which ships are recycled was published for consultation by the Government last week.

The draft proposals include guidance on the sale or recycling of Government-owned vessels, including adding clauses in sales contracts to ensure new owners take full responsibility for the safe recycling of their vessels and do so in facilities that meet acceptable standards. It also includes recommendations for recycling facilities such as their expansion and upgrade.

About 95% of a ship’s material can be recycled or reused but there are concerns about the health, safety and environmental standards of ship recycling yards – particularly in developing countries.

International negotiations are underway to develop legally binding guidelines for the safe and environmental recycling of ships. But these are not due to be adopted until 2008/09.

Environment minister Ben Bradshaw has said that in the absence of international rules the UK has a responsibility to do more to secure sustainable ship-recycling practices.

He said: “Until an internationally recognised regime for recycling vessels is in force, we need to be clear on the standards we expect, and indeed lead the way by making sure that Government-owned vessels are dealt with in standards we would expect in our own country.”

About 30 Ministry of Defence vessels are due to come out of operation in 2013 and an estimated 400 EU flagged ships will require recycling by 2010.

The consultation, including draft guidance for those who wish to recycle ships in the UK, can be found online.

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