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Cllr urges more discussion before final decision is made on new Fastnet light

April 27th, 2018 7:15 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

The Fastnet light is due to be changed to an LED bulb with a shorter range. (Photo: Raymond Fogarty, courtesy Fáilte Ireland)

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A LOCAL councillor has said that plans by the Commissioner of Irish Lights to remove the lens at the historic Fastnet Lighthouse and replace it with LED lights, reducing the range from 27 nautical miles to 18, should be discussed before a decision is made.

Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) has proposed a motion to Cork County Council calling on the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Leo Varadkar to retain the full beam and lens at the iconic Fastnet Lighthouse. 

Last month, a presentation was made to public representatives in Schull, where Capt Robert McCabe, director of operations and navigation with the Commissioners of Irish Lights, outlined the plan for Fastnet.

‘Not only will it lead to reduction in the beam length but the lens itself is of historic importance especially its floating mercury. This is extraordinary in its own right and would be of interest for both scientists and historians to look at,’ Cllr Coughlan told The Southern Star.

‘Also Fastnet Rock is such a symbol of departures for many people and it’s the last piece of land you see as you leave that’s owned by the Irish state. The fact that there are plans to interfere with its integrity is a pity.’

‘I respect the Commissioners of Irish Lights but would ask them to re-visit this proposal and I would further add that  Fastnet Rock should be added to the list of Unesco World Heritage sites. The Fastnet lighthouse has a history of keeping ships safes and while new technology is great at times you can rely on old technology as it stood the test of the time,’ added Cllr Coughlan.

Meanwhile, maritime lawyer Michael Kingston is proposing that no decision should be made until there is ‘100% certainty that the works will not damage the historical integrity of the Fastnet Lighthouse and her significance to County Cork, Ireland and the world.’ He called on Cork County Council to request a ‘stay of scheduled works’ and that the Council move to assist in supporting an application for Fastnet Rock to be considered formally for Unesco designation.

Captain Robert McCabe, director of operations and navigational services in Irish Lights confirmed that the lens would remain in place in the lantern room, even if it’s no longer in use. 

‘The project being undertaken at Fastnet involves important structural works to secure the station for the future, and the installation of a new light on the platform above the dome. The works will improve safety, environmental impact and performance at the station. Irish Lights can confirm that the 

‘Fastnet lens will not be removed during the capital works on the station. The lens will no longer be in use but will remain in place in the lantern room. Full details of the project were provided at a well-attended local public information evening in Schull last month and in a briefing to local public representatives. In addition an information factsheet providing further detail on the Fastnet project is publicly available on the Irish Lights website.’

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