The new rotating lantern will have the same character as the existing light and a range of 18 nautical miles. The lighthouse will continue to provide an essential safety service for mariners as well as being visible along the Cork shoreline from Mizen Head to Castletownshend.
The switch to the new light will facilitate commencement of essential structural works which are required to renew the attachment of the lantern room to the masonry structure of the tower. Work will continue on Fastnet until late August 2018 and final completion works will take place in summer 2019. On completion, the outward appearance of Fastnet will be unchanged.
Irish Lights Director of Operations, Captain Robert McCabe, said: “The present works at Fastnet are part of the continuing investment programme of maintenance, upkeep and modernisation of the aids to navigation services provided by Irish Lights to the mariner. The project being undertaken at Fastnet involves important structural works to secure the station for the future, and the installation of a new light on a replacement platform above the dome. The works will improve safety and the environmental footprint at the station while having no impact on the outward appearance of the lighthouse.”
The public consultation process undertaken with the project has led to increased consideration of the international importance of Fastnet as a unique example of lighthouse heritage and the potential for the site to achieve UNESCO World Heritage List status.
Irish Lights responded to this interest and commissioned an independent expert report which concludes that the present works on Fastnet do not negatively impact on its potential for world heritage status. The report also found that the consideration of Fastnet for UNESCO status would best be progressed jointly with other countries operating similar towers.
Irish Lights CEO, Yvonne Shields, said: “Our discussions with the local community and interested parties raised the question of Fastnet qualifying for UNESCO World Heritage Status. In response, we commissioned a report from an international expert to explore the potential for Fastnet to be considered a world heritage site and to get a better understanding of the context within which this might be considered.
“The consultant confirmed the criteria under which he felt the Fastnet might qualify for UNESCO status and confirmed that the work underway at the site will not impact negatively on this ambition. The report notes that the World Heritage Committee specifically recognises the importance of continual renewal of internationally important industrial world heritage sites in the context of their sustained use as viable working entities.
“Irish Lights will work with stakeholders and the community to determine the best way to advance the important heritage value of Fastnet as an international landmark.”