The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohoe TD and his UK counterpart, Minister John Hayes MP have announced that they have reached an agreement for light dues paid by ships coming into ports in Ireland and the United Kingdom from April 2015.
In 2010, the two governments committed to a process of enabling the Commissioners of Irish Lights to increase our revenue from Irish sources with the expectation of achieving self-financing of Irish Lights activities in the Republic of Ireland by April 2015. To meet this target, Irish Lights has reduced its operational costs (over a five year period) by 31% or €6.7 million, including a 34% reduction in staff. To complement the financial and operational restructuring, we have modernised our services and further reduced its net cost by using reserve capacity to generate commercial income which has increased year on year for the past three years.
Marine Aids to Navigation around the coasts of Ireland and the UK (lighthouses, buoys, beacons and electronic/radio Aids) are provided as an integrated service by three General Lighthouse Authorities, the Commissioners of Irish Lights, Trinity House and the Northern Lighthouse Board. All three authorities are funded through the General Lighthouse Fund, which is primarily financed through light dues levied on ships using UK and Irish ports and administered by the UK Department for Transport.
The UK and Irish governments have agreed to maintain the single light dues operational area and to improve the collection and enforcement system for light dues to ensure that ships pay light dues at the rate applicable at the first port where they become liable. Ships liable to pay light dues in Ireland will have to do so and the option for ships which call in the UK and Ireland to buy multiple light dues certificates in advance will be withdrawn.
Speaking about the agreement Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD said:
“I welcome this agreement, as I believe the single light dues area has worked well over many years, particularly for the shipping sector. It also avoids the need to pay light dues separately in Ireland and the UK, which would have imposed additional costs on shipping on Ireland-UK routes. To keep this arrangement in place it is of course important that the shipping sector plays its part in paying its liabilities for light dues promptly. The Commissioners of Irish Lights play a vital maritime role in providing aids to navigation from which the shipping sector benefits, and light dues are a key element of Irish Light’s funding.”
Welcoming the announcement, Irish Lights Chief Executive, Yvonne Shields said:
“The arrangements agreed will provide for the continuation of the tri-GLA arrangements and funding through the General Lighthouse Fund. It is significant that the impact on industry has been minimised. The existing nine voyage and 40,000 NT caps will continue to apply as will one month rolling certificates and mutual acceptance of valid Irish and UK light dues certificates. The Minister has also confirmed that the Irish light dues rate will remain at €0.60 per net registered tonne for Irish Light's upcoming fiscal year from April 2015 to March 2016. Additionally, the long-standing cooperation between the UK and Ireland in aids to navigation provision will continue building on the strong working relationships that exists between Irish Lights, Trinity House and the Northern Lighthouse Board ensuring value for money for stakeholders and end users.”
Click the links below to view the press release from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Ireland) and the announcement from Department for Transport (UK).