Trinity House and Shipping

The waters around South Devon’s Start Point have been plied by ships for centuries.

A review of shipping by Trinity House a few years ago showed more than 13,000 commercial ships pass within 20 miles of Start Point Lighthouse every year, where once there would have been ships sailing to the Crusades, tea-clippers on their way to the East Indies, passenger ships sailing to distant lands and local lads bound for the Newfoundland cod fishing grounds.

Trinity House is the General Lighthouse Authority for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar with a remit to provide aids to navigation including lighthouses to assist the safe passage of vessels in some of the busiest sea-lanes in the world.

The service is financed from Light Dues levied on commercial vessels calling at ports around the British Isles, based on the net registered tonnage of the vessel. The rate, set by the Department of Transport and reviewed annually is currently 37.5p per net registered ton (unladen weight), with vessels charged for a maximum of nine voyages per annum. Tugs and fishing vessels are liable for annual payments based on their registered length.

Light dues collected in the UK:  2016/17 was: £77.9m, 2015/16 was £79.2m

Ireland collect their own light dues: 2016/17 was: €6.1m, 2015/16 was €6.1m.

Light Dues are paid to the General Lighthouse Fund (GLF) which is used to finance the lighthouse services provided by Trinity House (England), the Northern Lighthouse Board (Scotland and the Isle of Man) and the Commissioners of Irish Lights (Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland).

Major initiatives such as lighthouse and light vessel automation and the solarisation of buoys and a growing number of lighthouses have made a significant contribution to the reduction of Light Dues.