To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they supported the creation of European Union rules requiring shipping companies to use more low emission fuel; and what assessment they have made of the estimate by P&O Ferries that it will result in increases in fares from £160 to £210 for a family of four travelling from Dover to Calais by sea.
The rules concerning low emission fuel to which the Noble Lord refers are part of the International Maritime Organization’s MARPOL Convention, a treaty to which the UK is a party. The UK supported the development of these standards when they were negotiated in the International Maritime Organization. The Government also supported these standards, but not any ‘gold-plating’ of them, in the subsequent negotiations on an EU Directive covering sulphur emissions from ships. The shipping industry has known that it would need to comply with these international rules ever since they were adopted by the International Maritime Organisation in October 2008.
The Government’s aim is to implement the sulphur limits in a way that minimises the economic impact on the industry. We have not made a detailed assessment of the costs to P&O Ferries which have been reported in the media. We recognise that ticket prices may have to increase to cover the cost of low sulphur fuel, but falling oil prices should offset at least some of this increase. We are looking at ways of helping industry meet the new regulatory requirements. We have already been successful in 2014 in supporting shipowners and ports who applied for EU assistance under the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) programme to help purchase innovative technologies. We propose to take matters further and identify additional options for financial assistance to affected parts of the UK shipping and ports industries.