MAJOR renovation works are planned for Fastnet Lighthouse designed to make the iconic landmark more environmentally friendly.
However, some are lamenting the changes which will reduce the range of the sweeping light by nine miles.
Both next summer and summer 2019 will see Irish Lights carry out structural work which will replace a total of 32 cast iron bolts securing the 7t lantern to the 113-year-old Cornish granite tower.
According to Captain Robert McCabe, director of operations & navigation services at Irish Lights, many of the bolts are old and corroded and for this reason, while challenging due to the offshore location, they need to be replaced.
As well as this, and in a slightly controversial move, the light will be decommissioned and the bed of liquid mercury it sits on will be removed. Mercury is largely thought to be toxic.
The lens will stay in position, but a low energy, environmentally-friendly LED light will be installed on the roof of the lantern.
This means that the current range of the beam will be reduced from the current 27 nautical miles to 18 nautical miles. However, according to Robert, it is not something that will be noticed onshore and from a mariner’s point of view, the changes are not significant.
‘And with modern aids and GPS, 18 miles is the internationally agreed maximum range needed in modern times. In fact, the new light will be crisper and sharper.’
These works were identified as part of a five-year review by Irish Lights and are described by Robert as ‘environmentally very positive.’
‘The new light will reduce our requirement for diesel power significantly as a diesel generator will be mothballed. We have a preference for renewable energy, but we’re not there entirely.’
A post on Galley Head Lighthouse’s Facebook page detailing the works said: ‘It is likely that this range reduction will mean that Fastnet’s light will no longer be visible from the balcony of Galley Head Lighthouse, as it has been for nearly 125 years. Those sweeping beams of light that are iconic to lighthouses such as Fastnet will soon disappear.’ Another described the changes as ‘sad’.