Chair of SEStran (South East of Scotland Transport Partnership), Russell Imrie says that a bid to cut sulphur at sea may sink, The Scotsman reports


SEStranSEStran supports moves to improve the environmental friendliness of water transport, as a mode that already has the potential to play a major role in sustainably transporting passengers and freight within the region and further afield.

Mr Russell Imrie says that despite their potential to move large quantities of traffic off-road, ferry services present environmental problems as they use "bunker" fuels which produce high quantities of sulphur and other pollutants.

The EU Sulphur Directive which comes into force from next year,  will reduce the acceptable sulphur output from engines from the current 1.5 per cent to 0.1 per cent in ships plying the North Sea routes.

Although this measure will make a significant contribution towards reducing carbon emission from merchant vessels, it presents operators with problems.

There are many solutions available to shipping lines affected by the Directive. They can refit vessels with new engines that use cleaner fuels.

These alternative fuels would improve upon the sulphur output of bunker fuels, but they are more expensive, have potentially major implications for the fuel production industry and, in the case of LNG, are not readily available in the UK.

Demand for the new fuels will lead to price rises, with a potential knock-on effect on sources of fuel used in all modes of transportation. There is also the question of what to do with the remaining bunker fuels.

Another option is to fit existing vessels with scrubbers.

Finally, depending on the age of the vessel, the only realistic option may be to purchase a replacement.

Whatever option is chosen, operators face a bill to bring services in line with the directive running into millions.These added costs may mean particular services cease to be viable.

SEStran supports a cleaner, more environmentally friendly fleet, but believes the EU must provide support to service providers if they are to comply with the directive's aims without reducing existing services or facing commercially unviable expenses.

A study initiated by SEStran through the Transport Research Institute at Napier University is looking at ferry services for freight and passengers in light of the directive and the kind of support the EU has given ferry service providers elsewhere. The results will feed into European freight projects like Foodport and Weastflows.

SEStran aims to develop a sustainable transportation system for South East Scotland that will enable business to function effectively and provide everyone living in the region with improved access to healthcare, education, public services and employment opportunities.

Learn more about SEStran's projects at  www.sestran.gov.uk

 

Further details may be found at The Scotsman

 

 

 

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