Marine Navigation Bill gains Royal Assent
The Marine Navigation Bill received Royal Assent on 29 April and will now be known as the Marine Navigation Act 2013, with commencement expected within a few months.
The UK Chamber of Shipping welcomes the new Act which was originally a Private Member's Bill promoted by Sheryll Murray MP containing wide ranging measures urgently required to update existing marine legislation.
Changes had been sought by the Department for Transport and the UK Chamber and the Ports Associations over the last decade but Parliamentary time to progress such a wide, and at times contentious, range of issues was never available. The very positive effect of the new Act will be to reduce burdens on the ports and shipping industry and improve maritime safety.
It has been a considerable achievement for the UK Chamber to have a new Navigation Act, the primary clauses of which liberalise the granting of Pilotage Exemption Certificates allowing any ‘Deck Officer’ to be eligible for exemption. Through submissions at the committee stages, the UK Chamber highlighted necessary amendments to both encourage and allow a greater number of qualified officers to obtain PECs. Many operators and deck officers will now benefit from the new amendments to the Pilotage Act 1987 which for the last 25 years provided a comprehensive framework for the delivery of pilotage services, but which required modernisation.
The new Act makes amendments to clauses in the Harbours Act 1964 regarding the power to for Designated Harbour Authorities to give ‘Directions’ and be relieved of their obligations when ‘Closure Orders’ are made. These new non-statutory measures will be subject to oversight of a new Harbour Directions Code of Conduct. The Act also extends the jurisdiction of Ports Constables to allow for more efficient policing of port areas.
Finally, and very usefully, the Act extends the abilities of the General Lighthouse Authorities to enter into commercial contracts and so utilise surplus capacity to increase commercial revenue, and addresses minor issues regarding the means of marking wrecks.