Sullom Voe and the Green Award Foundation

On the occasion of his retirement, Captain G.H. Sutherland, Port Director of Sullom Voe and member of the Board of Experts of Green Award, wrote following article.

"As I retire from my position as Port Director at Sullom Voe and also from the Board of Experts of the Green Award, I am proud that Sullom Voe is a participating port in the Green Award Scheme. I also take pride in my own involvement with the Green Award Foundation and all that has been achieved in the last few years.

However, it is disappointing that Sullom Voe remains the only UK port offering a discount to vessels with a Green Award Certificate. So why does Sullom Voe offer a financial incentive to Green Award vessels amounting to 5% of payable ship dues?

There are several reasons and these are set out below:

1. The main reason is that Sullom Voe demands very high standards from all involved in its operations. This is necessary because the port is required to handle some of the largest tankers in the world in a pristine environment which supports major seafood industries but which is subject to very severe weather from time-to-time.

2. The management at Sullom Voe did not believe that a rigorous regulatory regime was sufficient to encourage the standards sought from all ship operators and charterers. Whilst regulation is necessary, performance is likely to be improved where incentives are available to encourage compliance.

3. It was also firmly believed that good operators who strive to meet high standards should be rewarded for their efforts.

4. It is also certain that freedom from accident or incident results in effective economy of operational cost. As our American friends have remarked "If you think this is expensive try an accident!" High standards of operation generally reduce exposure to risk and mishap. Consequently it is reasonable to reduce the cost to those who set and meet high standards.

5. Whilst a variety of ship-vetting and quality control schemes exist, the Green Award is a rating scheme which measures standards on a pass or fail basis. At the same time the system established by the Green Award is itself open to detailed external accreditation.

6. The Green award system is accredited by the Nautical Institute which is wholly independent, focused upon operational performance and widely acknowledged for its reputation in setting internationally recognised standards of excellence in ship operation in other areas.

7. There has not been a single serious incident involving a Green Award vessel at Sullom Voe since the incentive was introduced in 1997. The only reportable incident was promptly and effectively handled which reinforced the confidence in the system.

8. Since 1998 the number of Green Award vessels trading to Sullom Voe has varied between 10% and 17% of total arrivals. These are encouraging figures which demonstrate a commitment by owners and charterers to avail themselves of the incentives on offer to those who meet high standards.

For all the above reasons I commend the Green Award Certification system to all Port Authorities who wish to encourage quality tonnage to use their facilities and thereby reinforce their efforts to protect the environment. It would be particularly rewarding to see other UK ports following the example set by Sullom Voe and the Shetland Islands Council."

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