Dáil Éireann - Volume 514 - 10 February, 2000

Written Answers. - Navigation Mast.

38. Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources when a final decision will be made on the proposed Loran C navigation mast at Loop Head, County Clare; the progress, if any, made with regard to the prom[448] ised consultation process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3643/00]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Mr. Fahey): Deputies are aware that the proposed siting of a Loran C mast at County Clare is a complex and sensitive matter. Involved are matters relating to international commitments, entered into solemnly by the State in 1992, maritime safety and the sustainability of dependence on the US GPS system as the sole position fixing infrastructure and Irish access to a possible new generation of position fixing technology involving land and satellite elements. Against these considerations are strongly held concerns on the part of local communities in County Clare about the health, environmental and visual impacts of a Loran C mast in the locality of Loop Head.

I do not intend, therefore, to make any commitments as to when final decisions will be made in relation to this project, at this stage. I need to consider carefully how to progress in the light of the influencing factors indicated above. I am very aware that there is a binding commitment to proceed with a Loran C mast in Ireland which will meet the requirements of the international agreement, ratified by the Dáil and Seanad in 1992. I am also aware that not proceeding with the project carried political and financial exposures. It is also possible that not proceeding will mean that Irish mariners of the future will not have access to an established position fixing infrastructure which will be a credible alternative to GPS. I am also aware that the site at Loop Head is perceived to create particular difficulties and that there is widespread opposition to a siting at that location.

Accordingly, I intend to review fully and carefully how to progress this matter in the light of all of the concerns and considerations.