Watch and wait on outboard emissions standard

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Ministers confirm mid-2016 timetable but give no detail on legislation.

The recent meeting of Federal and State environmental ministers has re-iterated the goal of introducing emission standards targeting outboard engines by mid-2016 but details about what the legislation may contain will not be made public until early next year.

A working group report on how best to implement standards in Australia is due to go the ministers by the end of the month but its recommendations will not be made public.

The first view that the industry will have of the proposed legislation, including any phase-in and exemption provisions, will be when the draft legislation is released, possibly in early 2016. It is expected the standard will broadly mirror those currently operating in the US in order to bring Australia into line with existing international standards.

David Heyes, chairman of the Australian Marine Engine Council which represents outboard manufacturers such as Evrinrude, Honda and Suzuki, said any phase-in period is expected to be limited.

“Any phase in or broad exemption that Minister Hunt decided to allow won’t be extensive. Exemptions are generally only where there is no possible alternate and a phase in would be in terms of months which means industry needs to finalise their preparations.”

However, Lindsay Grenfell of the Outboard Engine Distributors Association (OEDA), including Mercury, Yamaha and Tohatsu, called for a "more realistic" approach to any phase-in period for smaller engines, taking into consideration the technology, industry and public usage.

"Ultimately it will the Minister's call what the phase in period will be for two-stroke outboards under 25hp. However, OEDA, which represents over 70% of the outboard sector in Australia, has advised the Minister and the Department to allow a lead time manufacturing date of 2020 for the final phase out of these smaller engines for many reasons explained during the working group."

In addition to impacting on engine importers, some local boat builders may need to upgrade hulls to allow for heavier engines in line with AS1799 Australian Boat Building standard of 2009.

BMT dealers are also expected to be responsible for compliance with the fuel system evaporative standard including the use of low permeation hoses, fuel tank expansion capacity and a carbon canister on the vent line.

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