New aids to navigation
make Strangford Lough a safer and more inviting place for vessels
A new system of aids to navigation is being installed in Strangford Lough this month, making a huge improvement to safety on the Lough and boosting efforts to increase water based recreation for tourism and sport.
Lights and marks at key points have already started to appear on the water and on completion will mark safe passage to the Lough’s main mooring areas.
The work is being funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development through the Down Rural Area Partnership and by Ards Borough and Down District Councils, with both local authorities managing the new system through the Commissioner of Irish Lights.
The system is based on recommendations from the former Strangford Lough Management Advisory Committee, now the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership who worked for over a decade along with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to develop the proposals and encourage the relevant statutory authorities to carry out the work. The aids will guide vessels to the Lough’s main mooring areas and they will appear on Admiralty Charts.
Installation is being carried out by Briggs Marine of Fife whose vessel the ‘Cameron’ arrived in Strangford Lough last week to begin work.
Isabel Hood, Chairman of the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership, herself a keen sailor, said “Strangford Lough has the capacity to be a centre for international sailing events and these aids are the first steps towards that aim”. She commended the efforts of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, sailing clubs and the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership Office amongst others who had over many years worked to develop a system that would be acceptable and workable.
Councillor Jim McBriar welcomed the vessel on behalf of Ards Borough Council and expressed his delight at seeing the much needed project getting underway.
Councillor Eddie Rea, on behalf of Down District Council, said that he believed that this would be of great economic benefit to the area.
Richard Newell from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said, "These new navigation marks will make a significant contribution to improving safety of navigation on the Lough. Its has taken a lot of effort over a number of years to get to this point and I want to thank all those who have put in so much time, commitment and especially finance to get us here. With the use of the Lough increasing every year, I know this will make it a safer place for everyone to enjoy."
Gil Stevenson of the Association of Strangford Lough Yacht Clubs also welcomed the new system he said “Strangford Lough is a major yachting and boating centre in Northern Ireland, with 12 clubs located on its shores. We have waited a long time for these important safety features, and now we look forward to both local and visiting sailors benefiting from them. We are greatly appreciative of the expert help and advice brought to this project from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the Commissioners of Irish Lights and the Crown Estate Commissioners, and we congratulate Ards Borough Council and Down District Council for bringing the project to completion. I would like to express my special thanks to the Strangford Lough Management Advisory Committee and the staff of what is now the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership for the support and facilitation provided to the project over the years."
Neil McGill of Briggs Marine commented on the great co-operation his company had received from all concerned as they installed the aids.