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Chairman’s Review for 2014

As my term as Chairman draws to a close it’s only natural to reflect on what has been achieved over the last 2 years. It was my intention to make the association bigger and better and that has to some extent been achieved. Prior to taking on the role of Chairman I had drafted some personal objectives which included the following:

  • Make the accreditation process work effectively and stand up to the scrutiny of the regulators and to our member’s clients.
  • Implement quality approved training for our members and non-members.
  • Maintain and develop the associations involvement in relevant research and development projects.
  • Ensure that events are advertised well to our members and also to a sufficiently wide audience to be of maximum benefit to our members. Previous events, particularly Inland events were too inward with members presenting to members and insufficient opportunity to network with potential clients and regulators.
  • Interspill has grown to become a hugely successful exhibition and conference for marine spill response and clean up particularly. I also wanted the event to be extended to cover other aspects of spill response including inland spill response which would be of interest to many of our members.
  • Raise the profile of UKSpill by contributing to consultations and lobbying government where appropriate.

Thankfully and in no small part as a result of the efforts of Roger Mabbott and other members of the Board, progress has been made on all of these objectives. Some of the key achievements over the last two years include the implementation of UKSpill Approved Training, an increase in the diversity of our membership to include loss adjusters, international oil companies and others, the continued involvement of UKSpill in EU funded oil spill R&D projects, the well-attended Inland Spill event in 2013, the implementation and delivery of ARMS training and the work towards a successful Interspill event in 2015.

In November I attended the UKSpill ARMS Training course delivered by Glyn Humphries of Adler and Allan in Poole. The event was fairly well attended and I felt it was a great introduction to shoreline spill response work being a good balance between technical presentations and practical demonstrations. I hope that we can repeat these courses across the UK over the coming years and that we can build a good number of ARMS trained personnel.

There have been some disappointments along the way though, such as the unfortunate postponement of the UKSpill 14 event in October 2014 owing to low delegate numbers. However, the one day conference and exhibition being held on 3 February 2015 at Donington Park combined with the AGM, will I hope, be a resounding success and I urge members to attend and also invite others that you think may be interested in the services that UKSpill members can offer.

The UKSpill Accreditation Scheme continues to be supported by the UK’s environmental and maritime agencies and this year the scheme was also recognised in the Health and Safety Executive’s guidance note on ‘Understanding COMAH: Performance and Recognition Framework’. This kind of recognition as well as inclusion in guidance such as PPG22’ Dealing with Oil Spills’, shows that we have clearly managed to create a scheme that is well known and well respected, but I am sure we can do more. One area that needs attention is onshore chemical spill response and the Standards Technical and Advisory Group (STAG) have recently started to make good progress on the content of the ‘Onshore Chemical Spill Response Module’ which will be completed in 2015.

Despite the good progress, in my opinion, the management of UKSpill, and the management of the Contractors Accreditation Scheme, which I believe is a fundamental part of the association, may need to adapt in the future if it is going to achieve the objectives outlined above and those identified by the Chairman elect. With respect to the Accreditation Scheme we need to learn from our previous mistakes and ensure that we get the right people doing the right jobs to be as effective as possible and to enable the achievement of our aims and objectives.

We need to be and be seen to be an effective association in charge of an effective Accreditation Scheme to gain the continued support of the environmental and maritime agencies, of our existing members and to be attractive to potential new members.

The reality is that with limited resources available and with much of the development of the association being driven by what I have come to know as ‘sweat equity’ from board members and other members of the Association, making the association grow and become more effective for its members is always a challenge. Stewart Ower, Managing Director of OHES takes over the role of Chairman in February 2015 and I am confident that he will rise to that challenge and will ensure the continued success of the UKSpill Association.

Dr. Jon Burton
Chairman, UK Spill Association
7 January 2015