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.
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
- FUELS AND OILS
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.
- All powered craft should be properly maintained
to minimise emissions both to the atmosphere and
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Refuelling facilities
- 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
- 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.
- 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).
- "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.
- 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.
- Freshwater navigation
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.
- Tidal waters
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.
- 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.
- BOAT HULL CLEANING, PAINTING AND ANTIFOULING
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;
- Removing old coatings
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.
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
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.
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
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
- REPORTING POLLUTION
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.
- Boat Safety Specification
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
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
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
BRITISH WATERWAYS HEAD OFFICE
Willow Grange, Church Road, Watford, WD1 3QA
Tel: 01923 226422 Fax: 01923 201300
24hr Emergency Contact: Freephone "Canals"
ENVIRONMENT AGENCY HEAD OFFICE
Rio House, Waterside Drive, Aztec West, Almondsbury,
Bristol BS12 4UD
ENVIRONMENT AGENCY REGIONAL OFFICES
Peterborough PE2 5ZR
Tel: 01733 371 811
Fax: 01733 231 840
21 Park Square South
Leeds LS1 2QG
Tel: 0113 244 0191
Fax: 0113 246 1889
Richard Fairclough House
Warrington WA4 1HG
Tel: 01925 653 999
Fax: 01925 415 961
550 Streetsbrook Road
Solihull B91 1QT
Tel: 0121 711 2324
Fax: 0121 711 5824
West Sussex BN11 1LD
Tel: 01903 832 000
Fax: 01903 821 832
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
St Mellons Business Park
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