Briefing Note: Environmental Guidance for Boaters
This briefing note, updated in August 2023, provides background information and guidance to boaters about ways to minimise pollution.
The principal emissions of concern are Carbon Dioxide (CO2), because of its contribution to global warming, and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and particulates less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10s), because of their damaging effects on the respiratory system. Sources include boat engines, wood-burning, solid fuel and oil stoves, and central heating boilers.
Emissions from inland waterways boats are currently relatively small. IWA’s Sustainable Boating Group estimates that boats on the UK’s inland waterways account for about 0.05% of retail fuel sales in the UK while the draft London Environment Strategy suggests that boats on the Thames contribute only about 1% of the total NOx and PM10s produced in the London area. However, these can still be significant, especially at the local level in residential areas, and will become more so as pollution from roads is reduced. Canal & River Trust has noted that local authorities in Oxford, London and Bath & North East Somerset are particularly affected because of the high concentrations of residential boats.
The Clean Air Act 1993 gives local authorities the power to make a ‘smoke control order’. Properties falling under such an order are subject to restrictions on the emission of smoke from chimneys attached to buildings. This Act was amended by the Environment Act 2021, which fundamentally changed how smoke control orders work and how the rules are enforced by local authorities.
[The photo shows Millwall Inner Dock, Canary Wharf, in London by Mark Caldon]