Description

Response to oil spills and other pollution incidents affecting the coastal and marine areas.

Key locations

Potentially anywhere along the Berwickshire and Northumberland coast. Spillages or discharges may occur from vessels at sea, in harbours, or on land.

Frequency

Infrequent but potentially at any time

Potential issues

  • Toxic contamination of habitats and species by oil or chemical inputs
  • Toxic contamination of habitats and species from dispersants and clean-up methods
  • Smothering of habitats and species by oil or chemical inputs
  • Damage caused by clean-up operations

Features of Marine Protected Areas which might be affected

  • Reefs
  • Sea caves
  • Sand and mud flats
  • Inlets and bays
  • Grey seal
  • Birds (wintering and breeding)
  • Sub-tidal sediments
  • Saltmarsh

Legal Responsibilities or Duties (England)

A number of legal powers, duties or regulatory tools exist which are relevant to this activity and its management. These are summarised in the table below:

Legal Power, Duty or Regulatory Tool Relevant Legislation Lead Organisation
Requirement for  local authority planning and emergency response Civil Contingencies Act 2004 Northumberland County Council

North Tyneside Council

Requirement for ports, harbours and oil handling facilities to have oil pollution emergency plans in place Merchant Shipping (oil pollution preparedness, response and co-operation convention) Regulations 1998

 

 

The International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation 1990 (OPRC Convention)

 

Port and Harbour Authorities
Environment Agency pollution control powers , exercisable for the purpose of preventing or minimising, or remedying or mitigating the effects of, pollution of the environment Environment Act 1995 Environment Agency

Relevant Guidance, Plans or Codes (England)

The following guidance, codes, plans or strategies are also relevant to the management of this activity:

Name Description Responsible Organisation Statutory or Non-Statutory?
National Contingency Plan The Plan identifies the key stakeholders involved, the governance arrangements under which they should operate and the broad responsibilities.

 

MCA Statutory

(Section 293 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, as amended)

Northumberland Coastal and River Pollution Contingency Plan The Plan will be used in the event or threat of a water borne pollution incident on sea, coastal area, estuary and tidal reaches of Rivers in the Northumberland area. Northumberland County Council Non-Statutory
Premiam Post Incident Monitoring Guidelines Provides guidelines for effective environmental monitoring strategies following a pollution incident CEFAS Non-Statutory

Details of Current Management (England)

Coordination of pollution incident response

In the event of a major pollution incident in UK waters arising from shipping or offshore oil and gas operations, the UK National Contingency Plan (NCP) is implemented. The production of the plan is led by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA). https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-contingency-planncp

For the purposes of response planning, the NCP adopts a tiered approach to pollution incidents:

  • Tier 1 Local (within the capability of one local authority, offshore installation operator or harbour authority)
  • Tier 2 Regional (beyond the capability of one local authority or requires additional contracted response from offshore operator or from ports or harbours)
  • Tier 3 National (requires national resources co-ordinated by the MCA for a shipping incident and the operator for an offshore installation incident)

In English waters, under the NCP, spill response is co-ordinated by a representative of the Secretary of State, who works with key local response authorities, as well as the North East Standing Environment Group which is made up of authorities with a marine and conservation remit. The Marine Management Organisation advises on the use of dispersal agents and chemicals.

A set of new guidelines has been developed to strengthen the response to oil and chemical spills at sea. The post-incident monitoring guidelines are a key output from the PREMIAM project (Pollution Response in Emergencies: Marine Impact Assessment and Monitoring) which was initiated in 2009. https://www.cefas.co.uk/premiam/guidelines/

Local Pollution Response Planning

Port and harbour authorities are required to produce individual oil spill contingency plans. These plans must be reviewed every five years and the draft plans go out to consultation to stakeholders, including Natural England. The MCA formally signs the plans off and ensures environmental concerns are dealt with in line with MCA guidelines and the advice of Natural England. Harbours carry out smaller reviews, which don’t require formal consultation, on an annual basis and changes are advertised and signed off by the MCA.

The MCA ensures that harbours run an appropriate number of exercises and that they have adequately trained response staff at a Tier Two Responder level, or access to a contractor should an incident occur. The MCA also provides training for responding authorities and Northumberland County Council hosted a MCA Beach Masters course in November 2013.

Northumberland County Council has a whole area spill contingency plan in place.

http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/NorthumberlandCountyCouncil/media/Fire-and-Rescue/NCC-POLLUTION-PLAN-2-2-Dec-2014.pdf

Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve (NNR) has oil waste storage facilities to store oil drums that wash up in the NNR. Northumberland County Council collects the drums for disposal.

The Environment Agency advises on risk of oil and chemical spillage from land, ensuring that adequate safety and contingency measures are in place.

Enforcement

The illegal discharge of oil or chemical pollution can result in prosecution by the Environment Agency.

Gaps in Management (England)

Oil spill contingency plans do not always identify the location of the interest features of marine protected areas; More opportunities for cross-border collaboration on exercises; Contingency plans do not always include information on the care and treatment of animals affected by spills, and how this will be coordinated.

Legal Responsibilities or Duties (Scotland)

A number of legal powers, duties or regulatory tools exist which are relevant to this activity and its management. These are summarised in the table below:

Legal Power, Duty or Regulatory Tool Relevant Legislation Lead Organisation
Requirement for Category 1 responders to undertake risk assessments for potential emergencies The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (Contingency Planning) (Scotland) Regulations 2005, Regulation 32 Scottish Borders Council
Requirement for ports, harbours and oil handling facilities to have oil pollution emergency plans in place Merchant Shipping (oil pollution preparedness, response and co-operation convention) Regulations 1998

 

 

The International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation 1990 (OPRC Convention)

 

Port and Harbour Authorities
Scottish Environmental Protection  Agency pollution control powers , exercisable for the purpose of preventing or minimising, or remedying or mitigating the effects of, pollution of the environment Environment Act 1995 Scottish Environmental Protection  Agency

Relevant Guidance, Plans or Codes (Scotland)

The following guidance, codes, plans or strategies are also relevant to the management of this activity:

Name Description Responsible Organisation Statutory or Non-Statutory?
National Contingency Plan The Plan identifies the key stakeholders involved, the governance arrangements under which they should operate and the broad responsibilities.

 

MCA Statutory

(Section 293 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, as amended)

Preparing Scotland: Scottish Guidance on Resilience Guidance to responders assisting them assess, plan, respond and recover from emergencies Scottish Government Non-Statutory
Premiam Post Incident Monitoring Guidelines Provides guidelines for effective environmental monitoring strategies following a pollution incident CEFAS Non-Statutory
Lothian and Borders Community Risk Register Highlights risks that have the highest likelihood and potential to have significant impact

 

Lothian and Borders Local Resilience Partnership Statutory

(The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (Contingency Planning) (Scotland) Regulations 2005, Section 32)

Details of Current Management (Scotland)

Coordination of pollution incident response

In the event of a major pollution incident in UK waters arising from shipping or offshore oil and gas operations, the UK National Contingency Plan (NCP) is implemented. The production of the plan is led by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA). https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-contingency-planncp

For the purposes of response planning, the NCP adopts a tiered approach to pollution incidents:

  • Tier 1 Local (within the capability of one local authority, offshore installation operator or harbour authority)
  • Tier 2 Regional (beyond the capability of one local authority or requires additional contracted response from offshore operator or from ports or harbours)
  • Tier 3 National (requires national resources co-ordinated by the MCA for a shipping incident and the operator for an offshore installation incident)

In Scottish waters, under the NCP, Marine Scotland Science (MSS) provides a 24 hour emergency response through a duty officer service. In the event of an emergency, the duty officer works in collaboration with staff from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and / or the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). Together they provide advice to primary responders on the overall environmental benefit of using dispersants to treat spilled oil in particular situations. The Scottish Government has published guidance to assist with emergency response. https://www.readyscotland.org/ready-government/preparing-scotland/

A set of new guidelines has been developed to strengthen the response to oil and chemical spills at sea. The post-incident monitoring guidelines are a key output from the PREMIAM project (Pollution Response in Emergencies: Marine Impact Assessment and Monitoring) which was initiated in 2009. https://www.cefas.co.uk/premiam/guidelines/

The Civil Contingencies Act 2004: Contingency Planning (Scotland) Regulations 2005 put duties on “Category 1 Responders” (which include the emergency and health services and local authorities) to undertake risk assessments for potential emergencies. As part of this process a series of Community Risk Registers have been produced, including one for Lothian and the Borders https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/media/880145/landb_lrp_crr_v1.2.pdf

Local Pollution Response Planning

Port and harbour authorities are required to produce individual oil spill contingency plans.  These plans must be reviewed every five years and the draft plans go out to consultation to stakeholders, including Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). The MCA formally signs the plans off and ensures environmental concerns are dealt with in line with MCA guidelines and the advice of SNH. Harbours carry out smaller reviews, which don’t require formal consultation, on an annual basis and changes are advertised and signed off by the MCA.

The MCA ensures that harbours run an appropriate number of exercises and that they have adequately trained response staff at a Tier Two Responder level, or access to a contractor should an incident occur. The MCA also provides training for responding authorities.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency advises on risk of oil and chemical spillage from land, ensuring that adequate safety and contingency measures are in place.

Enforcement

The illegal discharge of oil or chemical pollution can result in prosecution by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.

Gaps in Management (Scotland)

Oil spill contingency plans do not always identify the location of the interest features of marine protected areas; More opportunities for cross-border collaboration on exercises; Contingency plans do not always include information on the care and treatment of animals affected by spills, and how this will be coordinated.