The RYA answers Trinity House's call for compulsory dues for yachtsmen

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) in the UK says it believes there is “little economic case to be made” for charging boat owners Light Dues, the fees that are levied by the authorities in the UK to pay for the provision of aids to navigation by the General Lighthouse Authorities (GLAs).

The debate about light dues has been thrown into the spotlight again by suggestions made by the GLAs that there is a case to be made for mandatory licensing and training for boat owners.

Speaking exclusively to IBI on February 10, Edmund Whelan, the RYA’s legal and technical adviser said the RYA understood that, in this day and age, individuals making use of a service expected to have to pay for that service, but believes that the case for charging boat owners Light Dues is flawed.

“Trinity House (one of three GLAs in Great Britain and Ireland) estimates that the cost of providing aids to navigation is around £70 million,” Whelan explained. “Charging boat owners light dues would raise £2-3 million in revenues towards this, but the cost of setting up and administering such a scheme would far exceed any revenues raised.”

Whelan said he believed that Trinity House had achieved considerable cost savings in recent years through the introduction of new technology and new working practices, and that further savings could be realised.

“The RYA is conscious that, for instance, there are certain types of waypoint lights that could be removed or downgraded without affecting safety of navigation,” Whelan told IBI. Whelan cited the lights at Beachy Head and at Anvil Point on the south coast of the UK as examples, although he believed there might be local opposition to removing them due to sentimental attachment to well known features.

Whelan said that in ongoing discussions with Trinity House, the GLA had suggested that it had not meant to say in its Vision 2020 consultation paper that it wanted mandatory licensing and training now, only that if there were a rationalisation of aids to navigation, and if therefore there was greater reliance on other forms of navigation in future, then licensing and training would be necessary at that point.

“Either Trinity House was misunderstood, or it is back-tracking quickly on the proposals,” said Whelan.