Northern Lighthouse Board
of the areas have challenging sea conditions for much of the year. This includes 6,214 miles (10,000km) of coastline and around 790 islands.
The majority of the aids to navigation, such as lights, buoys and beacons, are provided by harbour authorities and other local bodies under the supervision of the Northern Lighthouse board, but most outside the harbour limits it provides directly, they say this includes 208 lighthouses, 165 Buoys, 34 Beacons, 8 AIS Stations, 4 DGPS Stations, 27 Racons plus in cooperation with other General Lighthouse Authority's they operate a GLA Loran Station. All of which has to be kept in serviceable condition.
Technology is offering them, like others, many opportunities and they are making considerable achievements due to this. All major lighthouses were automated by 31 March 1998, and the conversion of all its statutory lit buoyage to solar power was accomplished in 1997.
The joint General Lighthouse Authorities' policy is based on the continuing requirement for the foreseeable future for a base-level of traditional visual aids to navigation, in the form of lights, beacons and buoyage, but a decreasing reliance of these "traditional" aids to navigation and an increasing reliance on high precision radio aids. Inline with others they will be decommissioning many of the existing lighthouses and other aids over time.
Funding comes largely from 'Light Dues' levied on commercial vessels calling at ports in the British Isles and Republic of Ireland ports, these are explained in the Trinity House article. There is only one fund and its shared out between the various lighting authorities, and possibly others. A Letter of Comfort relating to pension liabilities has been provided. The Secretary of State for Transport has a duty to ensure the effective management of the GLF and enable the adequate provision of aids to navigation at the minimum cost. Otherwise its gets no direct state funding.
The Merchant Shipping and Maritime Safety Act 1977 permitted the Northern Lighthouse Board to market spare capacity and facilities to commercial clients. They have a long list of commercial and support services available today.
Amongst these assets are two ships
The Board Today
Today the Commissioners of the Northern Lighthouse Board consists of the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General for Scotland, the Lords Provost of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, and the conveners of the Councils for Highland, and Argyll and Bute, the Sheriffs Principal of all the sheriffdoms in Scotland, a person nominated by the Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man and appointed by the Secretary of State, and up to 5 co-opted Commissioners. Loads of information is online, including the Commissioners Handbook and minutes of meetings.
The board says its prime objective is
Their main base is in Edinburgh, and everything is monitored from there, they have technicians based in Edinburgh, Oban, Orkney and Shetland.
While the English equivalent, Trinity House, came about by converting an existing charitable group by an early Royal Charter, and then had other charters before the modern era, the Northern Lighting board was set up by and is much closer to the government.
The Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses were established by Act of Parliament in 1786, authorising the construction of four lighthouses in Scotland - Kinnaird Head, North Ronaldsay, Scalpay, and Mull of Kintyre, and the establishment of a Commission for their operation. It appointed nineteen Commissioners to carry out the Act which stated in its opening that:-
The Act gave the Commissioners the necessary powers to purchase land, levy dues and borrow funds. Further legislation widened the Commissioners' powers and they were given the power to erect lighthouses on the Isle of Man in 1854.
The Commissioners appointed at the time were the law agents of the Crown, Sheriffs of coastal counties, and the Lord Provosts and Provosts of Scottish cities and towns whose mercantile interests were involved. Over the years the numbers of the Commissioners varied, and further changes were brought about as a result of local government and sheriffdom re-organisation.
The Commissioners were incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1798 under the title "The Commissioners of the Northern Lighthouses". This title was altered to its present form by the Merchant Shipping Act 1853.
The Merchant Shipping Act 1995 lists the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses with two areas of responsibility,
Theses areas were not devolved to the Scottish Assembly, and under the Scotland Act 1998 are reserved so the Board's affairs will continue to be subject to legislation passed by the United Kingdom Parliament. Ministerial responsibility will remain with the Department for Transport.