Maritime and marine emergency planning

There is a constant programme of European funded initiatives underway, many of which relate to the health of our marine and maritime environments. The initiatives are invariably partnerships between counties, regions or countries. The Cycleau project was a good example of this work which was carried out in Cornwall.

A project which is due to finish at the end of October is the EROCIPS project (Emergency Response to Oil, Chemical and Inert Pollution) which involved Devon and Dorset County Councils as well as Pembrokeshire CC, Northern Ireland, Brittany and so on. One of the investigative aspects of the project was to look at risks from shipping in the Western Approaches. This included research on the number, size and scale of shipping movements carrying hazardous cargo, together with aspects of the coastline which would be impacted in the event of an incident. Coastal types, access, fisheries, scientifically listed and protected areas etc were all studied.

At a late stage in the project the contractor asked if Cornwall could supply data to populate and properly finish the study. With great, and speedy, assistance from Cornwall Sea Fisheries, the Environment Agency and others, together with data we had already collated for our Beach Clean up guidelines, I was able to supply the required data by the almost impossibly short deadline. As this newsletter goes to press I am waiting for the final EROCIPS report to be published.

Separately I am reviewing the former Fal Emergencies plan which is designed to provide a co-ordinated response to maritime emergencies, other than oil pollution. A review meeting in July saw representatives from all of the ‘blue light’ agencies, Falmouth Port, Harbour Masters, Defra (Transec), Port Health Authority and CCC Emergency Planning staff working together to update the plan. One major outcome from this meeting was the inclusion of the Helford estuary fully into the new Fal Bay and Estuaries Maritime Emergency Plan. Scenarios which would be covered by this multi-agency response plan include collisions, groundings, sinking, fire, disease outbreak, major pollution of the watercourse and dangerous goods related incidents which are beyond the routine capabilities of the harbour authorities or public services. Individual agencies are submitting their own segments of the plan. I hope that the plan will be completed and in place before the end of the year.

Finally, many of you will remember John James, Emergency Planning Manager, from Cornwall County Council, who was instrumental in early support for the HVMCA. John has just retired. I am sure that you will join me in wishing John a long and happy retirement.

Martin Rawling
Emergency Planning Officer
Cornwall County Council

Extract from HVMCA newsletter No.35 Autumn 2007
© Helford Voluntary Marine Conservation Area