UK Chamber 'disappointed'

The UK Chamber of Shipping has reiterated its backing for new sulphur emissions legislation after its views were “misrepresented” in a parliamentary debate on the impact it will have on domestic ferries.

But the organisation repeated its warning that the UK passengership industry faces an impossible battle to be ready for the rules next January.

The Chamber was responding to comments from UK transport ministry Stephen Hammond in the House of Commons, in which he said: “I have to say that I am pretty disappointed that the UK Chamber of Shipping continues to react as if the sulphur limits are new and are somehow inherently undesirable, or else that the UK government should have avoided them.”

Chamber spokesman Jonathan Roberts said it did not want to be drawn into a “war of words” over the issue, but it was disappointed with the comments and said Hammond knew it fully supported the aim of the legislation.

He said the industry has known of the coming changes for years, but owners have had to wait for the retro-fitting technology to be available to do anything about it. Only in the last few months has the technology been there, he added.

But P&O has estimated that fitting exhaust scrubbers will cost $10m per ship – more than some small vessels are worth - and take 50 days, meaning a total of two years to convert every ship.

Roberts warned: “There are too many ships and not enough time.”

The Chamber is calling for the UK government to work with other European partners to reintroduce an element of flexibility on the deadline, as the IMO has suggested.

Otherwise there will be a spike in demand for low-sulphur bunker oil that will add $300m in costs – potentially forcing owners to hike fares by 20%.

Designated European control areas will see a 0.1% sulphur limit imposed from 1 January.