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Pollution Contingency Planning

Contingency planning

A key issue in dealing with marine pollution incidents is preparedness. Given the volumes of oil and other pollutants shipped around the UK and the turbulent, often unpredictable nature of our waters, marine pollution incidents are an unfortunate inevitability. The UK has a well developed contingency planning arrangements to ensure that if pollution does occur, its impacts can be limited in the most effective way. The following contingency plans are regularly reviewed by the MMO.

The National Contingency Plan

Produced by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, this plan outlines the roles and responsibilities of all key players in a marine pollution incident. This plan is reviewed every five years.

Standing Environment Group Contingency Plans

There are 14 standing environment groups (SEGs) around the coasts of England and Wales. The Solent SEG goes from Selsey Bill to the Dorset Border, including the Isle of Wight.


SOLFIRE is the marine emergency contingency plan developed to deal with any marine emergency or non-routine incident occurring within the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth, the Port of Southampton and the wider Solent Coastguard co-ordination area.

Port/Harbour authority contingency plans

Under the Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution Preparedness Response and Co-operation, OPRC) Regulations 1998, ports and harbours in England and Wales are required to have contingency plans ready to be implemented in the event of a marine pollution incident emergency. These plans are reviewed by the Marine Pollution Response Team and relevant local and district offices within the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).