Environment Agency Pollution Prevention Guidelines for marinas and craft (PPG14)

These notes are for general guidance and the information given is without prejudice to any specific legislation, bye-laws or licensing conditions.

Note: Reference is made in these guidelines to oil absorbents which are materials which attract oil and repel water. Suitable oil absorbents should be available from chandlers.

Under no circumstances should emulsifiers or detergents be used on oil spillages.

  2. The Environment Agency is responsible for the protection of "controlled waters" from pollution under the Water Resources Act 1991 and it is an offence under the Act to cause pollution, either deliberately or accidently. "Controlled waters" include all watercourses and canals, estuaries and coastal waters out to three miles. Diesel, oil and petroleum spirit, sewage and contaminated bilge water can all cause pollution if discharged into controlled waters.

    It is important that all who enjoy the use of canals, rivers, estuaries and coastal waters, for business or pleasure, are aware of the following requirements, in order that they can help protect the environment and maintain a valuable amenity for all.


The most frequently reported type of water pollution incident involves fuels and oils. By following the guidance in this section you can minimise the risk of your boat or marina being a cause of such pollution. If a spill should occur in freshwaters contact the Environment Agency Emergency Hotline (0800 80 70 60). In esturial and coastal waters contact the nearest port or harbour authority or the coastguard for major spills. Do not attempt to clean up with detergents or emulsifiers, as these will increase the risk of harming the environment.

  1. Craft
  1. All powered craft should be properly maintained to minimise emissions both to the atmosphere and to water.
  2. Portable fuel tanks and spare fuel containers should be filled away from the waters edge and never overfilled, as spillage and bilge contamination will result. They must be sited and secured safely on the vessel to minimise the risk of collision damage, accidental spillage overboard or unauthorised interference.
  3. A small quantity of oil absorbent material should be kept on the craft at all times for use in the event of a spill. Used oil absorbents should be properly disposed of at approved facilities at Marinas, Lock Stations or Local Authority Waste Disposal sites.
  4. Fixed fuel tanks should be carefully filled adjacent to the fuel supply facility, ensuring that no fuel is discharged overside or into any part of the vessel. Some free space should be left in the tank to avoid overflow should the craft tilt. Any spillages must be mopped up with a suitable absorbent.
  5. Inboard engines must have a drip tray under the engine and gearbox to prevent contamination of the bilge. This should be maintained in a clean and dry condition. For additional guidance on drip tray specification see Reference 1.
  6. It is an offence to discharge contaminated bilge water into any watercourse. If bilge water should become contaminated, it should be pumped into suitable facilities or absorbents should be used. On no account should detergents or emulsifiers be used in bilge water.
  7. If the vessel develops a problem involving loss of oil/fuel, then stop at the nearest accessible mooring point for maintenance. On rivers and canals, do not moor immediately upstream of any water abstraction point or attempt to travel a great distance on the river.
  1. Refuelling facilities
  1. Fuel installations should be well maintained and all delivery hoses, pipework and delivery nozzles kept to a high standard and secured to prevent unauthorised interference. "Trigger" delivery nozzles with automatic cut-off on release should be used.
  2. Above ground fuel and oil storage tanks should be fully bunded and pipework protected against failure, accidental impact, theft and vandalism. Detailed guidance is available on above ground oil storage facilities (Reference 2). Underground oil tanks and pipelines may be subject to damage or corrosion and above ground facilities are preferred. In areas where groundwater is sensitive to pollution such facilities may be subject to restrictions.
  3. Waste oils should be kept in a bunded tank or in sealed drums in a secure dedicated store or surrounded with a kerb bund. The oil should be disposed of, with due consideration to the "Duty of Care" for waste matter, to an oil bank, recycling centre or by a licensed waste disposal contractor. Contact the Oil Bank Helpline on freephone 0800 663366 for information on oil bank locations. A guidance note on the safe storage and disposal of used oils is available (Reference 3).
  4. "Spill kits" containing absorbents and other materials should be kept readily available to contain and remove any spillage that has occurred, either directly into the water or onto the ground. Contaminated absorbents must be disposed of safely to a licensed waste disposal site.
  5. Bowsers should be maintained to a high standard. Where fuel is to be delivered by pump an anti-syphon valve should be incorporated in the delivery line. When not in use bowsers should be kept securely locked, preferably in a bunded compound well away from the waters edge or surface water drains.

Sewage effluent must not discharge from shore installations into controlled waters without the consent of the Environment Agency. Discharges to British Waterways canals will also require BW consent. Sewage discharges from vessels to rivers and canals are not permitted. For tidal and coastal waters, reference should be made to local harbour authority by-laws.

  1. Freshwater navigation
  2. Vessels with sanitation systems discharging sewage overboard must be sealed (or rendered inoperable) when entering freshwater navigations so that no toilet waste may be discharged overboard or onto land. "Grey Water" from sinks and showers may be discharged but care is needed to avoid the relwase of polluting materials such as strong cleaning agents and cooking oil. Holding tanks must be pumped into approved sanitary stations and never allowed to overflow.

  3. Tidal waters
  4. Discharges from sea toilets are not prohibited. However, consideration should be given to other water users and any bye-laws covering waters in the control of local harbour or port authorities. Chemical toilet waste should be pumped to an approved sanitary station and must not be discharged overboard.

  5. Sanitary stations

Sanitary stations should, where possible, be connected to the public foul sewer. In remote situations this may not be possible and an alternative method of sewage disposal, such as cesspool, septic tank or package sewage treatment plant, will have to be considered. These options will require special consideration and consultation with your local Environment Agency Office is advisable. Any sewage disposal facilities will need adequate maintenance to ensure correct operation and to prevent overflows to the watercourse. Chemical toilet waste should not be accepted at stations served by septic tanks and package sewage treatment plants as the chemicals can harm the micro-organisms responsible for treating the sewage. For further guidance on sewage disposal see Reference 4.


Most antifoulant products are designed to kill or discourage naturally occurring organisms and, as such, may cause damage to the water environment if used carelessly. In order to prevent your cleaning activities from becoming a pollution risk, you should observe the following guidelines;

  1. Removing old coatings
  2. All maintenance and blasting should be carried out in dry dock if possible. When removing old antifouling paint layers, care must be taken to prevent effluent and solids from these activities being discharged to a watercourse. If near to the waters edge, the use of suitable screening/barriers will prevent solids from entering the watercourse.

  3. Application
  4. Remove your craft to dry dock. Avoid any spillage of paint, solvent or antifoulant onto land, into drains or watercourse. Take specialist advice on the choice of paint, bearing in mind local conditions and then apply the recommended product in accordance with the manufacturers instructions. Note that current legislation prohibits the use of TBT and TPT antifoulants on private vessels of less than 25 metres (Reference 5). Operations involving larger vessels and TBT or TPT require authorisation from The Environment Agency (Reference 6).


  5. Cleaning
  6. If possible, remove your craft from the water. When cleaning or hosing off, never use more abrasion than necessary. Use a sponge or cloth on soft (copolymer type) antifoulings. A pigmented ‘runoff’ indicates that too much force is being used, anti-foulant is being lost, and that toxins are being flushed into the water. To prevent this from happening, reduce the water pressure you are using. You may only use clean water on the external surfaces of the vessel if it remains afloat – on no account may detergents, degreasers or any other chemical cleaner be used.

  7. Clean-up

Clean-up when you have finished. Make sure that old tins, brushes, solvents, blasting debris or scrapings are collected and disposed of as recommended by the manufacturer. Clean-up any spilt antifouling paint.

  2. All water users have a duty of care to protect and enhance the environment. Refuse must, therefore, be kept securely on board until unloaded into a proper litter facility. Burning of litter is strongly discouraged.

  4. Water pollution is an ever constant threat. If you notice anything unusual, such as dead fish or a suspected polluting discharge, or you observe bad practice, please notify the Environment Agency as soon as possible on the Emergency Hotline number, 0800 80 70 60.

  1. Boat Safety Specification

Available from:

Manager, Boat Safety Scheme,

British Waterways, Willow Grange, Church Road, Watford, Hertfordshire WD1 3QA

The Boat Safety Specifications booklet is also available from The Environment Agency.

Pollution Prevention Guidance notes

2. PPG2 Above ground oil storage tanks

3. PPG8 Safe storage and disposal of used oils

4. PPG4 Disposal of sewage where no mains drainage is available

Available from the Environment Agency

5. The Control of Pollution (Anti-fouling Paints and Treatments) Regulations 1987 S11987/783

6. Chief Inspectors Guidance to Inspectors on the application or removal of Tributyltin or Triphenyltin coatings at shipyards or boatyards.

Available from HMSO

Other relevant publications

Oil Care on Your Boat

Water Wisdom

Available from Environment Agency offices

The Waterways code for boaters

Available from British Waterways

Take to the Water – a beginner’s guide to boating on inland waterways

Available from both British Waterways and the Environment Agency


Willow Grange, Church Road, Watford, WD1 3QA

Tel: 01923 226422 Fax: 01923 201300

24hr Emergency Contact: Freephone "Canals"


Rio House, Waterside Drive, Aztec West, Almondsbury, Bristol BS12 4UD




Kingfisher House

Goldhay Way

Orton Goldhay

Peterborough PE2 5ZR

Tel: 01733 371 811

Fax: 01733 231 840


Rivers House

21 Park Square South

Leeds LS1 2QG

Tel: 0113 244 0191

Fax: 0113 246 1889


Richard Fairclough House

Knutsford Road

Warrington WA4 1HG

Tel: 01925 653 999

Fax: 01925 415 961


Sapphire East

550 Streetsbrook Road

Solihull B91 1QT

Tel: 0121 711 2324

Fax: 0121 711 5824


Guildbourne House

Chatsworth Road


West Sussex BN11 1LD

Tel: 01903 832 000

Fax: 01903 821 832


Manley House

Kestrel Way

Exeter EX2 7LQ

Tel: 01392 444 000

Fax: 01392 444 238



Kings Meadow House

Kings Meadow Road

Reading RG1 8DQ

Tel: 0118 953 5000

Fax: 0118 950 0388


Rivers House/Plas-yr-Afon

St Mellons Business Park

St Mellons

Cardiff CF3 0LT

Tel: 01222 770 088

Fax: 01222 798 555







For general enquiries contact your local Environment Agency Office on 0645 333 111.

The 24-hour emergency hotline number for reporting all environmental incidents relating to air, land and water is 0800 80 70 60

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