Tories call for merger of lighthouse authorities

The Conservative Party is calling for the merger of the British Isles’ three lighthouse bodies and the axing of subsidies for Irish navigational aids as the row over light dues, from which yachtsmen are so far exempt, escalates in the credit crisis.

‘Many in the industry are wondering why it is that we require three separate lighthouse bodies, when they could be brought together and efficiency savings made’, Julian Brazier, the shadow shipping minister said.

Reflecting growing concerns among shipping lines and UK port operators over a proposed jump in light dues of as much as 67pc, Mr Brazier said: ‘While we all agree on the importance of maintaining such navigational facilities, it should not mean that costs should be allowed to spiral uncontrollably upwards.’

Mr Brazier added that, ’80 years since the Irish Free State received its independence, we are still subsidising their lighthouses and navigational aids’, effectively paying 65pc of the total. ‘I would remind you that your Government has been promising to tackle this issue since January 2004,’ he said.

Mr Brazier added that ‘the shipping industry has been particularly hard hit by the current economic turmoil.’

‘Any additional cost pressures at this time could lead to lines missing out stops at UK ports altogether. The City of London, as the global centre for shipping, could also ultimately be affected,’ he said.