Distress Flare Disposal Service - HAMPSHIRE

by [email protected] in Hampshire, England, United Kingdom

Distress Flare Disposal Service - HAMPSHIRE
We did it
On 19th September 2017 we successfully raised £525 with 20 supporters in 28 days

Compliant, sustainable and free to use service providing distress flare collections and disposal for the Hampshire boating community

by [email protected] in Hampshire, England, United Kingdom

We are aiming to establish a compliant and sustainable, long term solution for the removal and disposal of out of date marine distress flares for the Hampshire (Two dedicated collection points located in the Fareham and Lymington areas)

More info on our Facebook Page


Since the Ministry of Defence teams stopped collecting out of date flares from MCA stations in 2009 there have been several attempts to fill the void. Despite considerable funds being expended in the establishment of these government led schemes the appetite for tax payer 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, needing to be disposed of. As a result of the lack of available disposal routes and in some instances the costs for private disposal, there has been an increase in people keeping hold of out of date flares.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 In addition, the environmental impacts of flares which are poorly stored, left to go out of date or dumped illegally are considerable.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 with the resultant pollution. This service would remove the need for hoarding or dumping and thereby reduce the need for onsite disposal and its associated impacts.


Whilst not part of their mandated roles or responsibilities the Police, Fire Service and Coastguard are all called upon to provide a level of service in relation to out of date flares. Whilst the level of appetite and capability differs across the country and within each organisation there is a significant cost to the tax payer for this activity. Despite the military EOD teams responding to explosives related incidents they will not routinely support the disposal of non-military items, such as distress flares, and therefore any agency wishing to dispose of these items must source a commercial solution and meet the associated costs which are often not budgeted. 

Our Aim

Ultimately, we are looking to establish a nationwide solution with at least 24 (Essex added) permanent static collection sites located across the UK. These would also be supplemented by planned 20+ collection day events (often termed amnesties) where members of the public can bring along their flares for no charge. This page/campaign is aimed at providing a solution for Hampshire ONLY.

This solution will include two 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 3 collections per site/per annum but additional collections can be managed within the service due to nationwide coverage and likelihood of regular collection runs.

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, we believe these areas would provide a good spread of availability. 

  1. Hampshire (East - Fareham Area) (This campaign page)
  2. Hampshire (West - Lymington Area) (This campaign page)
  3. Isle of Wight (See IOW Funding Page)
  4. Dorset
  5. Devon (South)
  6. Cornwall (West)
  7. Cornwall North/North Devon Border
  8. Bristol Area
  9. South Wales (Glamorgan/Carmarthenshire)
  10. North Wale
  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
  24. Essex

Anyone wishing to have their area included in the list should contact us such that we can review the options and where appropriate develop the project further. There is no real limit to the number of collection points so please contact us to discuss your local requirements.

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

Collection Days (also known as 'Flare Amnesty' events)

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.


We have been involved with explosives, and particularly pyrotechnics (marine distress flares and fireworks) since 2005. During this time, we have undertaken commercial disposals across the entire UK and islands, and provided free of charge amnesty events in a number of regions. Specifically, we have undertaken a number of flare amnesty events, on an annual basis, in Hampshire, Dorset, Sussex and Kent over the past 4 years. 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.

Videos of previous events we have been involved in

Beaulieu Flare Amnesty

Dorset Flare Amnesty 

Key Project Aims

This service is designed to achieve the following key aims:

  • Be Free of Charge to members of the public (subject to the amount raised this could be extended to the commercial sector or subsidise commercial disposal routes only after the public solution is in place)
  • Ultimately establish a viable network of drop off points across the UK
  • Supplement the drop off points with amnesties in areas with less need for a static site (some islands)
  • Ensure each site and amnesty is compliant with all safety and environmental requirements
  • Reduce the travelling time people currently need to undergo to drop off distress flares
  • Not impose a limit on the number of flares being dropped by leisure users/members of the public
  • Provide sites that are accessible, without the need to book in advance, during set opening hours
  • Guarantee the service delivery for not less than 4 years
  • Undertake Research & Development into a more sustainable solution to the flare disposal solution alongside options for environmentally friendly disposal processes for such items

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 + 4 months - Training of site staff and go live date of service

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

What are the costs and Issues?


These requirements have specific costs attached and when combined provide the cost for establishing each site (appx £28,500) and the cost for undertaking the annual collections and maintenance of the storage facility (appx £3,500 per annum/ site assuming 3 collections). We would also wish to highlight that Ramora UK are supporting this project by delivering all their services at cost, alongside covering 10% of the costs to establish and maintain the solution.

£85,000 will provide all necessary costs to cover the establishment of the service in Hampshire (2 sites) and collections for 4 years. Every £3,500 raised beyond this will extend the service at each site for 1 further year. We have set a stretch target to provide 10 years of cover after which time we believe alternatives to distress flares should be more effective and widespread. 

Once the system is no longer required the site will be decommissioned and any residual funds will be donated to local maritime charitable causes in Hampshire

 Who will benefit?

  • Leisure boat owners (by providing a managed solution across all areas for the disposal of distress flares)
  • Charities and community groups (charities and groups who have out of date flares will receive collection free of charge for any flares they have for their own purposes/use. eg. rescue services, sea cadets)
  • 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)

What if we don’t reach our target?

In the event that we don’t manage to reach our target we will use any funds raised to deliver a limited service to the county. This may take the form of a series of amnesty/collection events or a reduced number of collections. Either way, the boating population of this area will benefit directly from any funds raised.

Public Safety

The risks associated with out of date flares are well known and whilst a number of people will suggest "they are not dangerous" or "are good for longer periods than stated by the manufacturer" the evidence stacks against that view. There are documented cases of professional mariners being injured by flares and several 'accidental' activations have occurred.

 The fact remains that all distress flares are classed as explosives and should be handled, stored and disposed of in accordance with the relevant legislation. The increasing incidence of abandoned flares only serves to elevate the risks to those who may come into contact with the items and a managed, compliant and proven solution will have a marked and profound impact on the levels of exposure.

Who is our audience?

There are over 900,000 boat owners in the UK and it is estimated that more than 400,000 of these utilise/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 3 years at considerable cost. The efforts then required to undertake safe disposal add not only to the costs but also the risks and concerns of many we have spoken to. 

If you believe there is a need for a solution in your area, or indeed across the UK, and can see the benefit of our proposal then please do support us. If you have any questions about how the system works in practice then we would be delighted to explain further. 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 us (there is no cost for this).

Quarterly Newsletter

Anyone backing this project will be added to the project mailing list and receive updates on how it is progressing with details of each site as they become operational. Those pledging £25 and above will receive our quarterly newsletter with updates on flare safety/use and any events or amnesties that are planned. 



This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£25 or more

£25 Reward

Quarterly newsletter outlining progress of the scheme along with flare and safety related news

£50 or more

£50 Reward

Name added to supporters list which will be uploaded to the scheme website

£100 or more

£100 Reward

Vibrating Hand Grenade (Stress relief toy)

£350 or more

£350 Reward

We will collect your out of date (or in date) flares from your home address or boat location (limited to one collection per reward and a maximum of 30 flares)

£3,000 or more

£3,000 Reward

Distress flare demonstration delivered at you location

Got an idea like this?

Over £200 million has been raised from our crowd to support the projects they love! Plus tens of millions more unlocked by our partners.