Council Calls for Return of Cruise Ship Fuel Conditions

The Inner West Council has called for the immediate reinstatement of a low sulphur fuel use regulation that has protected Inner West residents from cruise ship pollution since late last year.

A regulatory amendment of the NSW Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010, made to limit the sulfur content of fuel used by cruise ships in Sydney Harbour, has been overturned due to a discrepancy with the Federal Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act.

Administrator Richard Pearson said Council welcomed a commitment from cruise operators to continue the use of low sulphur fuels voluntarily, but wanted to see the provision legislated as soon as possible.

“Inner West residents have already been exposed to too much air pollution from ships at the White Bay Cruise Terminal,” he said.

“We’re extremely disappointed that the NSW Enviroment Protection Authority is being prevented from regulating the cruise ship industry due to a legal technicality.

“The health of our residents must outweigh the economic considerations of the tourism industry.

“Council calls upon the the Federal Government to fix this legislation and give environmental air quality the priority it deserves.”

Mr Pearson also called on the State Government to press for changes to the legislation and to finalise and release the report on Shore to Ship power and the Noise Mitigation Strategy.

“The former Leichhardt Council lobbied to have this report finished as a matter of priority,” he said.

“The State has had almost a year to complete the investigation. Shore to ship power would solve both air and noise pollution problems in one clean move.”

A report into the inquiry into the NSW Environment Protection Authority released in February 2015 acknowledged that the Authority had not adequately protected the Balmain community in protecting them from the effects of Cruise Ships berthed at White Bay.

It was followed by a NSW regulatory amendment which came into effect in October 2015 requiring the use of low sulfur fuel (0.1% or less) for cruise ships while berthed in Sydney Harbour. This requirement was to extend to all cruise ships throughout Sydney Harbour from July 1, 2016.

However the NSW Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010 provisions that relate to cruise ship fuel sulfur levels has been found to be inconsistent with the Commonwealth Act, which specifies a maximum sulphur content of 3.5%.

Therefore, the NSW regulations governing low sulphur fuel requirements for cruise ships are inoperative.

The former Leichhardt Council received numerous submissions regarding the operation of the White Bay cruise ship terminal from residents regarding, noise, odour and air pollution.

Council subsequently made representations on behalf of these residents at the Inquiry into the Performance of the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

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Page last updated: 03 Jun 2022