Written Answers. - Navigational Systems.

Proinsias De Rossa


45 Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources the position regarding the provision of a mast for the Loran C navigational system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17393/01]

There have been significant recent developments regarding the provision of the mast for the Loran-C radio navigation system. At a recent meeting of the international steering committee which manages the Loran-C radio navigation system, two members of the committee, Germany and Norway, formally gave qualified notice of their withdrawal from the system at the expiry of the current agreement in 2004.

This unexpected development means that Ireland must now move to determine its own marine radio navigation system in the likely absence of Loran-C. I have directed that we now proceed to assess the implications for Ireland of the qualified notice of withdrawal from the system by the German and Norwegian members; draw up our own policy on maritime radio navigation aids in consultation with all stakeholders, having regard to the relevance of the principle of avoiding sole dependence on one system, and to the vulnerability of GPS in that context, and to the availability of other possible aids to navigation; and in the meantime to suspend any work on the installation of a Loran-C mast in Ireland.

I have requested the Commissioners of Irish Lights to play a key advisory role in relation to the review which will be progressed on the basis of full consultation with all involved in the maritime safety area. I have asked my Department and the Commissioners of Irish Lights to draw up jointly a consultation document setting out an assessment of the state of radio-based aids to navigation around Ireland and the options for the future. This document will then be used as the basis for consultation.