Shipping Minister Stephen Hammond has announced a reduction in the rate of light dues, the contributions paid by the shipping industry for the upkeep of navigation aids such as lighthouses, buoys and beacons around the UK and Irish coastline.
Light dues will reduce by a penny to 40p per net registered tonne in 2014 to 2015. This is expected to reduce annual costs for shipping by £2 million. Following the freeze in light dues since 2010, this represents a 14% real terms reduction in the level of light dues over the last 4 years.
Shipping Minister Stephen Hammond said:
95% of UK imports and exports go by sea, so our lighthouse authorities are not just providing an essential service to mariners, they are supporting the wider UK economy.
We have modernised the way our lighthouse authorities work and they have harnessed new technology, for instance converting aids to navigation to use solar power. The savings that have been made as a result mean that, having frozen light dues in 2010, we can now actually lower them without compromising safety.
This will reduce the burden on the shipping industry as well as helping send out the message that, in the global economic race, Britain is the place to come and do business.
Michael Everard, Chairman of the Lights Advisory Committee said:
The reduction of 1p in the light dues rate is extremely positive, it is a small but important step in the right direction, it will help UK shipping, and is further evidence that ministers in this government are committed to a pro-shipping agenda and reducing taxes.
The General Lighthouse Authorities (GLAs) are now close to resolving both the move of Irish Lights to a self-funding basis, and the pension deficit of the 3 GLAs. Two major and longstanding issues. The Lights Advisory Committee believes that these developments together with other on-going operational cost-saving measures by the GLAs will enable further sustainable reductions in light dues in the years ahead.
The maritime sector is estimated to be worth up to £14 billion a year to the UK economy, providing employment for around a quarter of a million people, and it is growing. Last year UK sea ports handled over 500 million tonnes of freight, and gross tonnage has more than doubled on the UK shipping register since 1999.
Mr Hammond has made a statement to Parliament on today’s (6 March 2014) announcement and the department’s overarching policy to sustain a thriving maritime sector can also be found online.
Further information on the General Lighthouse Authorities for the UK and Ireland can be found on their websites: