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Council embarks on vital vessel recycling project

20 March 2024

South Hams District Council has launched an innovative project which will explore the recycling of abandoned vessels and help to reduce marine pollution.

Over the next two weeks, Creekside Boatyard in Dartmouth will dismantle a sailing boat that has reached the end of its useful life and with support from the Council, look at ways to fully recycle all parts of the boat.

The findings from the two-week study will help support local harbour authorities and coastal communities who struggle to dispose of abandoned vessels in their harbours. marinas and boatyards.

The project has the support from the Royal Yachting Association and its environmental programme The Green Blue who are currently collecting data on abandoned boats.

Cllr John Mckay, South Hams District Council’s Executive Member for Climate Change and Biodiversity said: “An increase in the manufacture of recreational vessels from the 1980s means that, over the next few decades, many more will reach their end of use. Most of these will have hulls made from mixed materials such as fibre reinforced plastic.

“Currently, there are few incentives for boatowners to recycle older boats due to cost and lack of specialised recycling facilities. Most vessels that have been abandoned on the water end up being salvaged and scrapped. While some components can be commercially recycled, the majority, including composite hulls, end up in land fill.

“With our focus on climate change, it is vital we look at what we can do within our District’s waters. Being able to recycle unused vessels will go a long way in achieving our net-zero targets.”
Chris Craven, Managing Director of Creekside Boatyard said: “We are delighted to be supporting South Hams District Council in pioneering the disposal and recycling of end-of-life vessels. Our vision is that this study will play its part in providing a progressive solution to what is a big and increasing problem.”

Dave Perret, a South Devon College apprentice working at the boatyard will be on hand throughout the next two weeks to record the findings and report back to fellow students as part of their NVQ Level 3 Marine Engineering studies.

Paul Singer, Business and Qualification Development Coordinator at South Devon College said: “South Devon College are delighted to be part of this important composites recycling project. Over 75,000 tonnes of end of life composites is generated in the UK each year, with the majority ending up in land fill. This pilot project will not only provide the evidence for larger scale projects but also raise awareness of dealing with waste composites with our students.”

James Scott-Anderson from Marine Environmental Specialists Blue Parameters, who are heading up the specialist delivery of the project, commented: “This is a significant step in tackling the challenge of EOL and abandoned vessels, a practical solution with potential economic value. It demonstrates that for future marine sustainability, stakeholder partnerships like this one are essential to achieve the most impact and deliver the best outcome.”

The Council will release a report on the findings in the summer with the hope of raising awareness of the issues surrounding abandoned and end-of-use boats, and further expanding the project.

Anyone who spots an abandoned boat, can report it at www.thegreenblue.org.uk/you-and-your-boat/info-and-advice/end-of-life-boats

Posted in SHDC.