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Eco-friendly Lightbulbs Cause Controversy in Flamborough

Flamborough Head lighthouse

Plans to replace traditional lighthouse bulbs at Flamborough with more eco-friendly versions have been criticised as being ‘harder to see’ which could lead to shipwrecks.

Flamborough Head lighthouse

More than 1,000 people near Flamborough Head lighthouse on the east Yorkshire coast have signed a petition against plans to modernise the lighthouse, which was built in 1806. The petition states that “the majestic ‘sweeping light’ feature which many flocked to see revolving and dominating the nighttime skyline is gone, taking with it a significant part of history and a sight familiar to millions throughout generations.”

“The impact; a drastic change to an area of historic magnificence which has lost part of its heart and soul, and many people who now mourn the loss of one of the key components of their familiarisation with Flamborough.”

“The change to the static LED lanterns has brought about a lot of sorrow to many. The landscape has lost one of its constant features which was a beautiful and heartwarming sight.

“It’s never too late to change this. Please restore the lighthouse with its most important and outstanding feature.”

Traditionally lighthouses use 1,000-1,500-watt tungsten bulbs, magnified by a Fresnel lens, but Trinity House, which runs the lighthouse, wants to replace the full beams with 200-watt LED bulbs, which flash intermittently instead of rotating to improve its eco credentials. They insist the bulky traditional bulb and lens, which needs to sit in a bath of mercury to spin, is a health and safety hazard even though lighthouses are now automated.

Flamborough Head is an 87ft tall white tower, loved as a local landmark and for its beam which used to light up the surrounding countryside. Residents say the new LED lighting system is ‘like a bloke waving a torch’ and cannot be seen at all in foggy weather. Trinity House admitted the new optic has cut the visible range of the light from 24 nautical miles to 18 – and many fear the weaker beams will cost lives.

Responses

North East fishing leader Stan Rennie said “it is absolutely ridiculous just having just a flashing LED light. There are all sorts of white lights on the shore any way – particularly in built up areas. It was bad enough when they turned some of the foghorns off on some of the lighthouses. I cannot believe they are getting rid of the sweeping beams too. It will make things even worse”.

Local Royal National Lifeboat Institution Coxswain Steve Emmerson said “we’ve lost part of our heritage. The worst thing about it is that it’s not a rotating light and you don’t see the beam shining out. It is just an LED flashing on and off”.

Trinity House, the charity which runs most of the country’s almost 250 lighthouses, said: ‘Trinity House works continuously through a rolling programme of lighthouse modernisation. We do this to ensure that our aids to navigation service benefits from using modern, efficient and reliable technologies and systems”.

Final thought

The decision to change the lights has caused much controversy among locals, as well as those who work for organisations. Concerns around aesthetics and safety are valid and these must be balanced with environmental initiatives.

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