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Shipping firms demand lighthouse levy cut

MAJOR SHIPPING companies this week called for a 50% cut in the levy they pay towards lighthouse maintenance.

They argued that the £64M contingency fund for emergency repairs was too big and that the £32M annual capital expenditure budget was often underspent.

The Department for Transport is working on legislation covering the future funding of lighthouses and is expected to put a bill before Parliament later this year. This follows a consultation process completed earlier this year.

A levy on shipping companies accounts for 97% of the General Lighthouse Authorities' £73M annual income.

The General Lighthouse Authorities comprise Trinity House, which operates English and Welsh lighthouses, the National Lighthouse Board, which covers Scotland, and the Commission for Irish Lights, which covers Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

The Independent Light Dues Forum (ILDF) also claims that there is no need for the administration to be split into three and that it would run more efficiently as one single body.

Trinity House disputed claims from the ILDF that its contingency fund was too big. 'This contingency is needed, ' a Trinity House spokesman argued. 'We are an efficient organisation and constantly striving to reduce costs.'

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