As it becomes more and more difficult to get rid of out-of-date flares, Ramora UK is looking for backing for a new disposal scheme


A series of crowdfunding schemes will be launched to provide permanent out-of-date distress flare disposal solutions across the United Kingdom.

The goal of Ramora UK is to provide a long-term (four to 10 years), accessible, and free to use, nationwide disposal service for marine distress flares and pyrotechnics.

An initial crowdfunder, with a target of £1,000, has been launched. This has a deadline of 9.12pm 12 September 2017 and will see any pledges spent on marketing, to publicise a series of regional crowdfunding campaigns, starting with the Isle of Wight, Hampshire and Dorset.


Credit: Ramora UK


Since the Ministry of Defence teams stopped collecting outof-date flares from Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) stations in 2009 there have been several attempts to fill the void.

Ramora UK says that despite considerable funds being expended in the establishment of these government-led schemes the appetite for taxpayer-funded waste disposal in this area is very much lacking.

The number of available locations around the UK for safe and compliant flare disposal is on the decline and whilst a number of manufacturers are trying to assist by taking in old flares when new ones are purchased, this doesn’t account for the many different flares from a broad range of suppliers and countries, which require disposal.

As a result of the lack in available disposal routes and in some instances the costs for private disposal, there has been an increase in people hoarding out-of-date flares.

Equally, recent years has seen a growing increase in the number of incidents involving the illegal dumping of flares which only result in elevated risks to those who discover them. In addition, the environmental impacts of flares which are poorly stored, left to go out of date or dumped illegally are considerable.

Often these types of flare are damaged or so old that road transport is not permitted by UK law and they need to be destroyed on site, causing pollution.

The aim

Ramora UK are looking to establish a nationwide solution with at least 23 permanent static collection sites located across the UK which would also be supplemented by planned 20+ collection day events (often termed amnesties) where members of the public can bring their old flares, free of charge.

The solution would include licensed drop-off points with patented storage units and trained staff to receive the flares. Each site would record all flares collected and an online system would ensure accurate accounting of items on the site and trigger notifications when approaching capacity.

Once a capacity trigger is activated a collection team will attend the site and remove all items for safe compliant disposal. It is envisaged that no sites would need more than three collections per annum but additional collections can be managed within the service due to nationwide coverage and likelihood of regular collection runs.


Credit: Ramora UK

Drop off point locations

A separate campaign is being established for each county/region wishing to have a distress flare disposal service. As an initial assessment Ramora UK believe these areas would provide a good spread of availability.

Anyone wishing to have their area included in the list should contact Ramora UK.

1. Hampshire (East)

2. Hampshire West/Dorset East

3. Isle of Wight

4. Dorset

5. Devon (South)

6. Cornwall (West)

7. Cornwall North/North Devon Border

8. Bristol Area

9. South Wales (Glamorgan/Carmarthenshire)

10. North Wales

11. Lancashire

12. Northern Ireland

13. Cumbria/Dumfriesshire

14. Stirlingshire/Lanarkshire

15. Inverness-shire

16. Aberdeenshire

17. Northumberland/Durham

18. Yorkshire (East)

19. Midlands (inland site)

20. Suffolk/Norfolk

21. Thames/London East

22. Kent

23. Sussex

(These sites are for collection only and items will be removed for environmentally compliant disposal elsewhere in the UK)

A total of 20 ‘amnesty’ or collection days will be scheduled during each year spread across the UK in areas not supported by static sites. These will include islands where there is a sizeable leisure boating community who can benefit.

Continued below…



Ramora UK have been involved with explosives and particularly pyrotechnics (marine distress flares and fireworks) since 2005.

During this time staff have undertaken commercial disposals across the entire UK and islands, and provided free-of-charge amnesty events in a number of regions, including annual events in Hampshire, Dorset, Sussex and Kent over the past four years.

A spokesman said: ‘The overwhelming response from those dropping flares into us is one of gratitude but also questioning why there isn’t a wider solution which doesn’t involve driving miles with dangerous flares etc. Equally, many boaters question why they should pay for the disposal. Whilst we have no wish to debate the payment issue, it is clear that those who do not wish to pay to dispose of their flares will either keep them for longer than they should, or worse, they will find a potentially less compliant disposal route.’

Outline project timelines

Funding + 4 weeks – Identify specific sites within each region/county and commence audit/survey for licensing

Funding + 6 weeks – Site license applications and QC of storage units

Funding + 2 months – Initial amnesty events x 4

Funding + 3 months – Licenses in place and commence delivery of stores/consumables.

Funding + 3 months – Training of site staff

Annual service to run for 12 months from the date of site establishment and availability for collections.

What are the costs and issues?

Just some of the requirements and considerations when collecting time-expired flares…

  1. Licensed storage facility
  2. Appropriately qualified collection and disposal staff (SQEP)
  3. Approved packaging and PI for transport (CAD)
  4. Process for dealing with damaged items or those unfit to transport
  5. Certified ADR vehicles for explosives carriage
  6. ADR qualified drivers
  7. Disposal sites
  8. Waste carriers license
  9. Risk assessments and method statements
  10. Waste transfer notes
  11. Certificates of final disposal

These requirements have specific costs attached and when combined provide the cost for establishing each site (approx £28,000) and the cost for undertaking the annual collections and maintenance of the storage facility (approx £3,000 per annum/ site assuming 3 collections).

Ramora UK wish to highlight that the man hours, intellectual property rights and insurance costs are being covered 100% by them for the duration of this project. This relates to around 10% of the overall project costs.

Who will benefit?

  • Leisure boat owners (by providing a managed solution across all areas for the disposal of distress flares)
  • Charities (charities who have out-of-date flares will receive free-of-charge collection for any flares they have for their own purposes/use. eg, rescue services)
  • Marinas and boatyards (the availability of dedicated collection points will reduce the need for marinas to store flares illegally or temporarily, along with the reduced risk benefits)
  • MCA, police and fire services, who currently deal with a number of abandoned flares (this service will help reduce the amount of dumped items)

Ramora UK says there are more than 900,000 boat owners in the UK and it is estimated that more than 400,000 of these utilise or own marine distress flares. They are distributed across the entire country and often berth their boat at a separate marina or coastal location.

Distress flares need to be replaced every three years at considerable cost. The efforts then required to undertake safe disposal add not only to the costs but also the risks and concerns.

If you are part of a boat club, marina or other organisation and would like to be considered as one of the static sites then contact Ramora UK (there is no cost for this).

Dave Welch, senior explosives officer (SEO) at Ramora UK told PBO: ‘After eight years of providing a commercial solution to the ever present issue of time expired marine flares, alongside our numerous free amnesty events, we are looking to offer a permanent nationwide solution.

‘Our proposal is to create a network of at least 23 sites across the UK where members of the public can drop flares (no limit) for no charge. In addition, there will be at least 20 amnesty events scheduled to cover those areas where a permanent facility isn’t justified. The service will also cover the islands around the UK coastline.

‘We have created a crowdfunding page to explain this and subject to the amount raised we can deliver a fully compliant service, with the appropriate licensed sites, explosives stores, transportation and environmentally compliant disposal, lasting from four to 10+ years.’