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Port regulation and contingency planning

Port security (ISPS)

The Port of Sunderland fulfils the provisions of Chapter X1-2 of the SOLAS Convention and Part A of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code and has a valid Port Facility Security Plan (PFSP), approved by the Transport Security and Contingencies Directorate (TRANSEC).

It is fully compliant in respect of protection categories “Other Bulk Cargoes” (OBC) and “Chemical, Oil, Gas” (COG).

As the PFSP is a restricted document, copies cannot be supplied to third parties.

Go to the security section

Waste Management Plan

The Port of Sunderland Waste Management Plan fulfils statutory duties to provide waste reception facilities for vessels using the port.

Copies can be supplied to appropriate port users.

Go to the waste management section

Health & Safety

The Port of Sunderland is committed to achieving a positive and effective health and safety culture within its area of operation. This includes strict adherence to Sunderland City Council’s corporate health and safety policy.

A number of documents set out policies for protecting the health of safety of employees and others who may be affected by the way the port conducts its activities and provides its services. The breadth and complexity of the port’s activities present many varied health and safety risks. It is essential, therefore, that an effective health and safety management regime is operated throughout the port.

The objective is to achieve a level of excellence in managing health and safety above and beyond compliance with legal standards. It is the intention to eliminate the risk of all work related accidents, injuries or illnesses to any person or damage to property that could result from port activities.

Unsafe events, whether they result in property damage or injuries, represent failures in control systems. All such instances will be investigated in order to improve controls and measure performance.

Safety Management System (SMS) / Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC)

The Port of Sunderland Safety Management System for marine operations is based on principles embodied in guidance published by the Health and Safety Executive (HS(G)65) and other industry standards, being designed to deliver the relevant requirements of the government’s Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC), which introduced national standards navigational safety in 2000.

PMSC is downloadable from the Department for Transport’s website via following hyperlink: SMS is a controlled document and not in the public domain.

Marine Safety and Environmental Policy

In the Port of Sunderland, we conduct our activities to take the foremost account of the safety of marine and land-based personnel, contactors, neighbours, visiting vessels, the fishing community, leisure and other users of the River Wear and to give proper regard to conservation of the natural environment. In implementing this policy, we will not only comply with all relevant national and international legislation, but will also promote initiatives, which benefit the health, safety and the environment of all who may be affected by our activities and which safeguard the natural environment.

We adopt a systematic approach to health, safety and environmental management and strive for continuous improvement by setting targets against which we measure, appraise and report our performance. Safety and environmental performance is included in the appraisal of all our personnel and is awarded accordingly. All our long-term contractors and service providers who participate in marine operations have adopted this policy and they operate fully within our management system. We require other contractors and service providers to manage health, safety and the environment in line with this policy.

In pursuing this policy, we will maintain a Safety Management System for marine operations with incorporates the following principles:


We believe that the majority of injuries can be prevented; High standards of safety consciousness and discipline will be maintained; and We have designed and will maintain our activities to minimise risk to employees, contactors and third parties.


We are committed to protecting the natural environment; We will promote environmental awareness and performance throughout the River Wear waterways; and We will strive to minimise hazards to the environment and maintain effective protection and recovery measures within the River Wear and Docks system.

Excellence in safety and environmental management are key objectives of the Port of Sunderland. Improving safety and minimising damage to our environment will undoubtedly lead to enhanced efficiency and business success.

Port emergency plan

The Port of Sunderland Emergency Plan provides an effective response to serious incidents within the Port of Sunderland, whether on board ships or within the land and buildings under its jurisdiction. It is intended to dovetail with other port contingency plans and those implemented by the emergency services, local authority and port facility operators.

Copies are provided to emergency services and designated agencies, stakeholders and organisations. 

Oil spill contingency plan

The Port of Sunderland’s Oil Spill Contingency Plan has been approved by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, pursuant to the Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution Preparedness Response and Cooperation Convention) Regulations, 1998.

This provides a framework, which draws together various resources to provide an effective response any oil pollution incident, which might occur within the port’s jurisdiction.

Copies of the plan are supplied to relevant organisations and stakeholders, as required.

Port health / Rabies

Sunderland City Council, through its Environmental Health section, is responsible for Port Health services. These include:

  • Carrying out inspections of ships arriving at the port

  • Preventing importation of infectious disease though the port

  • Inspection of vessels with regard to pest infestations

  • Preventing the importation of unfit food and food which does not meet national standards of quality, composition and labelling

  • Ensuring wholesome water supplies on board vessels

  • Public health control exercises

Contact details
Telephone: 0191 553 1661

Importation of rabies susceptible animals

The United Kingdom maintains strong legislation and control policies to help prevent the spread of rabies because our indigenous wild animals and domestic pets do not routinely carry the rabies virus.

Controls include the requirement for masters of commercial vessels and pleasure craft arriving in UK ports from overseas, to report the presence of any animal on board to both the Port Health Authority and HM Revenue and Customs.

Other than under the provisions of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) - introduced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in 2000 - rabies-susceptible animals may not be imported into the UK without being subject to strict quarantine regulations. These do not apply to such animals arriving directly from the Republic of Ireland.

All pet animals must therefore be kept secure on board vessels and locked behind two separate doors. Animals must not be walked on quays, jetties or other moorings as this is deemed to be ‘landing’ and ‘importation’.

The Port of Sunderland, including Sunderland Marina and upriver berths, is not an approved port for the landing of animals under the PETS scheme.

Severe penalties can be imposed for breaches of anti-rabies legislation.

For further advice or information contact Sunderland City Council’s Environmental Health section.

DEFRA’s website also provides useful guidance.

In addition to the above, port byelaws prohibit any animal (except dogs required for security purposes) from being brought onto the docks without the authority of the port manager.

Port byelaws

The following byelaws apply to the Port of Sunderland, copies of which can be made available on application to head office:

  • The Port of Sunderland Byelaws, 1978 (Download PDF)
  • The Port of Sunderland (Explosives) Byelaws, 1983
  • The Port of Sunderland (Petroleum Spirit and Carbide of Calcium) Byelaws, 1983

Port Byelaws are made under the Sunderland Corporation Act, 1972, which can be viewed online via the following hyperlink:

Pleasure boats – information for owners

  1. No person shall moor a pleasure craft in the port without the consent of the Harbour Master (Byelaw 14).

  2. Any boats which have been moored without authorisation must be moved. Failure to do so may result in the boat being moved by the Harbour Master at the sole risk of the owner and the cost of doing so charged to the owner. It is emphasised that no vessel has authority to moor at the West Wall (Commissioners Quay).

  3. All boats must be registered with the Port of Sunderland at Capstan House, Greenwells Quay, South Docks and moored where instructed.

  4. Harbour dues are payable yearly in advance and are payable for a period of one year or part thereof. Such dues are subject to VAT.

  5. Harbour dues are payable on demand. Failure to pay may result in the boat being arrested and possibly sold.

  6. All changes of ownership must be notified immediately. Failure to do so may result in authorisation to moor being withdrawn.

  7. Owners are reminded that the berth is allocated to the boat and not an individual. Therefore, on sale of a boat, the berth remains with the boat and consequently the new owner.

  8. The owner shall ensure that the vessel is conspicuously marked with the vessel’s name or other similar means of identification (Byelaw 28).

  9. No person under the age of 16 years of age shall be in charge of a vessel propelled by mechanical power (Byelaw 28).

  10. The master of any vessel shall ensure that the vessel is laid as close as possible alongside the quay, land or premises at which she is berthed and neither the vessel nor her moorings obstruct other vessels (Byelaw 49).

  11. No person shall trespass on, make a vessel fast to or interfere with any navigational buoy, light, beacon, sea mark or tide gauge (Byelaw 55).

  12. A person shall lay down moorings only with the permission of the Port of Sunderland to such specifications and in such a position as the Port of Sunderland shall deem fit and shall remove such moorings forthwith if the Port of Sunderland so direct (Byelaw 58).

  13. Any person in breach of the Port of Sunderland Byelaws, 1978, is liable to prosecution. Boat owners and associated persons are strongly advised to familiarise themselves with the full content of these byelaws, copies of which can be downloaded from the Port Byelaws section of this webpage.

  14. Owners and bona-fide crew members of boats moored in the South Docks must hold a valid photograph identity pass and (where applicable) a current vehicle identity disc. Passes can be obtained from the Port Facility Security Officer at Port Control at a cost of £10 for first issue and £5 for subsequent renewal. Any person who does not hold a valid photographic identity pass or (where applicable) a current vehicle identity disc is liable to be refused entry to the port estate.

  15. Any queries concerning the mooring or use of pleasure boats within the Port of Sunderland should be directed to the Harbour Master or his deputy. Attention is drawn to Port Byelaws (131 – 133) which refer to the use of hired cranes.

Awards and accreditations


The Port of Sunderland is certified by Product Authentication International (PAI) as complying with the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) Trade Assurance Scheme for Combinable Crops (TASCC), in respect of storage and in-house testing of combinable crops and dry feed materials/ingredients.

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Investor in People

As a Sunderland City Council service the Port of Sunderland holds Investors in People status, achieved by the council in 2004.

Investors in People

British Ports Association

The port is a member of the British Ports Association