Out of date flares: What to do as a Northern Irish boater

How to dispose of flares in a responsible manner according to the Royal Yachting Association
22 Feb 24
Yacht downwind spinnaker

Over the last few years, marine flares have become increasingly difficult to dispose of in Northern Ireland which has been a source of immense frustration for boaters.

This has been due to a combination of factors including carriage and storage regulations changing, as well as the MoD Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Teams routine collection service from HM Coastguard Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres (MRCC) and other collection points being withdrawn.

Safe disposal of marine flares is crucial, as improper disposal can be dangerous or cause harm to the environment.

It is therefore illegal to dispose of flares at sea, illegal to dump them on land and illegal to let them off in anything other than an emergency.

Ultimately, the responsibility for the safe disposal of expired flares rests with their owner. The eventual disposal of Time Expired Pyrotechnics (TEPs) must become part of your buying decision and who you buy them from.

Arranging safe disposal

You can find a list of registered disposal points using the Environmental Facilities Map on The Green Blue Website and facilities in Ireland can be seen here. However, as it currently stands there are no such facilities listed in Northern Ireland.

If you have out-of-date flares and need to arrange their safe disposal, you should contact the supplier you bought them from to see if they will take them back. Clearly this is not possible if you buy them online and you should bear this in mind. 

What is being done about a lack of a safe disposal site in Northern Ireland?

RYA NI have been having conversations with British Marine who have in turn been approaching Marina’s and Chandleries in Northern Ireland to become a facility for safe disposal of flares.

Unfortunately, none of these sites have agreed to take this on and Northern Ireland continues to have no designated facilities for the safe disposal of flares.

There are ongoing conversations with the wider sector to try and resolve this situation with an amnesty day also being explored.

We will keep our members updated as soon as any development is made but reassured that the sector is working hard to find a solution here in Northern Ireland.

To ensure that you stay up to date on this topic, subscribe to our bi-monthly newsletter.