A horrifying story in the Mail that will now doubtless lead to a knee-jerk reaction from the MCA and the government but which may actually be the fault of the MCA in the first place.
The red distress rocket commonly sold reaches a height of about 350m before ejecting a bright flare that descends slowly on a parachute for about 40 seconds. It's saved countless lives at sea, and forms part of the standard kit of coastal sailors on about a quarter of a million vessels.
The problem is, they have a 'use by' date beyond which the manufacturers won't guarantee their performance. So every five or six years, many of us buy a new set. And they're not cheap - a red rocket is about £20. Disposing of the old ones is the greatest headache; as it's illegal to fire them on land, you'd be ill-advised trying to work them into a bonfire-night firework display. You can't dump them in the wheely-bin. In the old days, both the RNLI and the Coastguard would accept them, and the army and navy bomb disposal folk would regularly collect them from marina offices. No more. Guidance from the HSE prohibits the transport of 'time expired' flares in anything but specialist armoured military vehicles. Now only the Coastguard will accept small quantities, handed in by appointment at Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre. The consequence is that thousands are being improperly disposed of.
Now we're paying road fuel duty on our boat diesel, you might imagine a flare disposal service in return wouldn't be too much to ask. But don't hold your breath.