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Hartland lighthouse faces closure

By This is Exeter  |  Posted: January 21, 2010

  • UNDER THREAT: Hartland Point Lighthouse Station is facing closure.

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A HISTORIC lighthouse which has been guiding vessels along the North Devon coast since the 1800s is facing closure.

General Lighthouse Authority, Trinity House, is looking to discontinue the Hartland Point Lighthouse Station.

Hartland councillor, Adam Symons, has pledged to resist the closure of what he believes is one of North Devon's most famous landmarks and is urging people to voice their concerns.

Hartland Point Lighthouse faces the Atlantic Ocean and guides vessels of all types approaching the Bristol Channel.

It was built by Trinity House in 1874 under the direction of Sir James Douglass.

Trinity House said every five years the GLAs conduct a full review of all their Aids to Navigation (AtoN) to ensure they are providing the right level of navigation safety around the coast, and taking advantage of technical improvements.

It has carried out a major review of its AtoN around the coasts of England, Wales and the Channel Islands.

It said that, due to the greater use and reliance on new navigational technology such as Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) including GPS, landfall and passing lights are now less important and their primary function is for coastal navigation, confirmation of position and spatial awareness.

Trinity House said, therefore, the traditional AtoN can now be regarded as a secondary but complementary system to the primary navigation system of GNSS.

Hartland is one of six lighthouses in line for "significant changes".

The review proposes to discontinue all Aids to Navigation at Hartland, in conjunction with increasing the range at Trevose Head Lighthouse to 24nm and Lundy South Lighthouse to 18nm and establishing a lighted buoy off Hartland Point.

Cllr Symons said: "Hartland Point Lighthouse is perhaps one of the best known landmarks in North Devon.

"Trinity House has stated that new shipping navigational devices have made it obsolete. However, I believe it plays a vital role in keeping shipping safe on this treacherous stretch of coastline.

"I am urging the public to write in to express their concerns about the loss of Hartland Point Lighthouse. This closure will be resisted.

"At over 18 metres in height, and visible from Wales, it is part of our rich maritime heritage, and has saved countless lives over the years."

The Trinity House consultation closes on January 29.

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    richard barker, hartland  |  February 07 2010, 5:25PM

    Why not shut all; light houses in this area and offer tourists wreaking safaries. the extra income will benifit all and provide jobs locally.

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    Nick Prust, Brixham from Appledore  |  January 27 2010, 11:05PM

    As a working fisherman of 36 years i believe that it is vitally important to keep Hartland alight,it is the 'gateway' to the Bristol Channel for the busy shipping,a ship that is northbound from pendeen sees Hartland as its first prominent point . If there was a lighthouse to switch off,to me it would be trevose as most shipping on its course up channel passes trevose around 12-15 miles off. To put a bouy somewhere off Hartland would have its problems with the horrendous tide that runs there,and would not have the efficiency that the present light now gives. The possible upgrading of Lundy south is a plus,but again upgrading Trevose still would not replace Hartland. ok almost all vessels in this day and age have very accurate navigation equipment,BUT there are plenty of times when it goes wrong and on those occaisions it is very pleasing to see in the distance a 'friendly'light. Long live those six flashes that used to flash through my bedroom window as a kid!!!!!

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    Cllr Martin Heslip, Holsworthy  |  January 21 2010, 11:25PM

    Having worked and stayed at Milford near Hartland for almost 12 months, and being very fortunate to having walked this magnificent coastline, it would be a great shame to put people's lives at risk by switching off a lighthouse, that for over 200 years has saved countless lives, and hopefully, will save alot more lives in the future. I think we should put people's safety first, rather than money, common sense needs to prevail.

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    Me, Devon  |  January 21 2010, 4:03PM

    What if a ship's GPS and other technological navigation gizmos were to fail? This is an extremely treacherous piece of coastline, illustrated by the number of shipwrecks old and new, and so surely it is a matter of safety and precaution that the light stays switched on? If it does get closed, it should be turned into a museum or something. Also it's a shame the road down to the lighthouse is closed to the public, it would be a lovely place to walk. Neil Oliver got to walk there on 'Coast' so why can't we!

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    DO, North Devon  |  January 21 2010, 10:44AM

    I'm disappointed that Cllr Symons has apparently chosen to try and score some political points on this issue. Trinity House is a non-political body that needs to make decisions based on evidence of costs vs benefits. Mr Symons' arguments are based on supposition and emotion. Yes, the lighthouse is a wonderful landmark and has a valuable heritage - but no one is proposing pulling it down, simply switching the light off. Does Mr Symons have *evidence* that the light at Hartland is an essential aid to navigation whose absence would endanger vessels? Has he been approached by mariners who have told him that they rely on the light at Hartland, and fear for their safety if it disappears? If he has, he hasn't said so. Safety at sea is too important an issue to be so cheaply politicised. Mr Symons should leave it to the experts.