THE controversial new light on Fastnet Rock Lighthouse has gone into operation, despite massive local, national and international opposition, as well as fears it might impact on its potential for world heritage status.
The new rotating lantern will have the same character as the existing light but a range of 18 nautical miles, compared to the previous 27.
The switch from the mercury light to the new LED system by Irish Lights, was, they said, to facilitate essential structural works which are required to renew the attachment of the lantern room to the masonry structure of the tower to get underway. Work will continue on Fastnet until late August and final completion works will take place in summer 2019.
As part of the public consultation process Irish Lights commissioned an independent expert report which concluded that the present works on Fastnet would not negatively impact on its potential for world heritage status.
The report also found that the consideration of Fastnet for UNESCO status would best be progressed jointly with other countries operating similar towers.
Irish Lights CEO, Yvonne Shields, said: ‘We will work with stakeholders and the community to determine the best way to advance the important heritage value of Fastnet as an international landmark.’
However, Goleen solicitor Michael Kingston, who was fearful of the impact of any changes had asked that the mercury under the old light was not removed until analysis of the report had been carried out. But it is believed the mercury was due to be removed between Wednesday of this week and next Tuesday.
At a recent Cork County Council meeting local Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said that he had been contacted by many fishermen who were worried that the reduction in the range of the light could be a hazard to safety.