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Belfast Harbour - Major Incident Plan

A Major Incident is defined as any emergency that requires the implementation of special arrangements by one or more of the Emergency Services, the National Health Service or the Local Authority.

Belfast Harbour Major Incident Plan is designed to support interagency action in response to a major incident that may occur within Belfast Harbour. The plan is designed to support a proportional and graduated response to a major incident whilst providing an interface with other local plans.

The guidance contained within the plan has been developed in consultation with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, NI Fire and Rescue Service, NI Ambulance Service, Belfast City Council, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Belfast Harbour Commissioners, Belfast Harbour Police,  Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Public Health Agency, MoD and other local councils and HSC Trusts that border Belfast Lough.  The plan is regularly tested and updated. The shore based scope of this plan is the area that lies within the perimeter of Belfast Harbour Estate.

The geographical scope for marine activities associated with the plan is defined as Belfast Port Limits. The Port limits are from the Lagan Weir to approximately 14km out into Belfast Lough to an imaginary line between Carrickfergus Castle and Grey Point near Helen's Bay.

Some activities within the Belfast Harbour area have the potential to result in a serious incident or emergency e.g. COMAH site operations, airport operations, passenger and freight ferry operations, public events and other operations involving dangerous substances. Details of the most likely credible events have been identified and assessed by Belfast Harbour Commissioners.

Belfast Harbour maintains a Harbour Resilience Group which operates under the umbrella of the Belfast Resilience Forum to ensure that adequate plans are developed,  maintained and tested to ensure that an integrated approach is taken to emergency response and subsequent recovery from a major incident.

The Belfast Resilience Forum is a local resilience forum (LRF) which brings together representatives from more than 50 different organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors.

It is responsible for organising and developing multi-agency emergency plans for the Belfast City Council electoral area and was set up  to meet the need for a co-ordinated approach to major emergencies in addition to what is offered by individual emergency services.

Further details are available at

Major Pollution Incident

A major pollution incident may result from a shipping incident, from a vessel at berth during discharge or bunkering, from a storage facility or from escape of a substance during transport. The substance involved may be oil, chemical or other noxious or dangerous substance. Marine pollution incidents from oil and other hazardous substances incidents will cause the Oil Pollution Contingency Plan maintained by Belfast Harbour to be activated.

Small land based spills will be dealt with by the Tier 1 Spill Control Plan which can be activated by Belfast Harbour Police or Port Operations.