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Historic lighthouse set to be axed

PUBLISHED: 06:00 14 May 2010

Orford Ness Lighthouse

Orford Ness Lighthouse

Archant

AN ICONIC lighthouse that has guarded the Suffolk coast for centuries could be shut within the next five years, it has emerged.

Trinity House, which is responsible for the country’s lighthouses, has recommended the historic Grade II listed building at Orford Ness be “discontinued” subject to further local consultation.

It has been discussing options for the lighthouse for many months and has already warned that the property could fall victim to the North Sea and be swept away.

In its Aids to Navigation Review published on Wednesday Trinity House recommends decommissioning Orford Ness lighthouse subject to more consultation.

However Southwold lighthouse - which was only itself saved from closure last year - will have its range extended in a bid to compensate for the loss.

Trinity House has already said that because of the sensitive nature of the Orford Ness coastline that sea defences may not be appropriate to protect the lighthouse.

As a result it has been looking at alternatives - which include moving the existing lighthouse further inland or letting it fall into the sea.

Last night a spokesman for Trinity House said the lighthouse would be closed between now and 2015 but options were still being discussed as to whether the property will be protected.

It is thought it would cost nearly £5m to save the lighthouse and experts predict it could fall into the sea within five years or may have to be demolished before then.

Martin Atkinson, National Trust property manager for the Suffolk Coast, on the Greater Lighthouse Authority review of Aids to Navigation, said: “We are acutely aware of the sensitive environmental, historical and economic issues surrounding the future of Orford Ness lighthouse.

“Our approach to the built environment in our care on the Ness has been to let nature take its course and we feel this is the appropriate course of action with regard to the lighthouse.

“If offered Orford Ness lighthouse by Trinity House, we would accept ownership of it on the basis that we would take the same approach, allowing it to fall into the sea, provided it has been fully decommissioned and any dangerous elements disposed of.”

However he said they would be keen to explore saving certain architectural features of the iconic building.

“As sad as it is, we feel that any attempts to defend the lighthouse where it stands would either be unsuccessful, not financially sustainable, or cause unacceptable damage to what is a fragile habitat of international importance,” he added.

When Trinity House first announced its plans for Orford Ness they was greeted with dismay by the local community which is keen to protect the historic lighthouse.

David Andren, chairman of the Alde and Ore Association, said they would still be meeting with representatives from Trinity House on June 8 to discuss the way forward.

“People are very upset that we could lose the lighthouse,” he said. “It would be devastating. GPS navigational systems are not reliable enough.”

A woman in her 30s was rushed to hospital after two men dressed in black hoodies threw a mystery liquid into her face during a “random” attack.

The family of Corrie McKeague will today be out on the streets of Bury St Edmunds talking to members of the public to mark the year anniversary of his disappearance.

A man in his late 20s has been arrested on suspicion of drink-driving after he crashed his car in Ipswich.

A teenager who had to be freed from the wreckage of a car by firefighters following a crash in Essex today is fighting for his life in hospital.

As the deadline for Stars of Suffolk nominations approaches, organiser Mick Parker is looking ahead to the “emotional and wonderful” annual ceremony that brings together the county’s unsung heroes for one night of celebration.

An 18-year-old woman who went missing from her home in Essex has been found safe.

The BurySOUND music competition is looking for up and coming bands to sign up for next year’s event - as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.

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