Beachy Head lighthouse left to fade to grey

Beachy Head lighthouse will be allowed to return to natural granite because the cost of painting it red and white can no longer be justified.

Lighthouse authority Trinity House said the lighthouse, at the foot of Beachy Head cliffs in East Sussex, cost £45,000 to repaint every 10 years.

But electronic navigational aids mean it was no longer needed as a daytime marker for sailors.

Eastbourne Lib Dem MP Stephen Lloyd said he wanted it to be preserved.

"I have been disappointed that such an iconic feature of Beachy Head is beginning to look scruffy and tatty," he said.

"I'm continuing to pressurise Trinity House to take responsibility for what is one of the most wonderful features along the south coast."

The 148ft-high tower was brought into service in 1902 to replace the Belle Toute lighthouse on the cliff top near Eastbourne.

Electronic nagivation

It is made of 3,660 tonnes of Cornish granite and monitored remotely 24 hours a day by Trinity House from Harwich, Essex.

The decision to stop painting it red and white came after a navigation aids review last year which also mooted turning off the lamp.

However, the light is to be kept operational.

"Less and less importance is being placed on the visual nagivation aid and more and more on the electronic these days," said Trinity House engineering and operations manager Simon Millyard.

Image caption Beachy Head lighthouse sits at the foot of the chalk cliffs near Eastbourne

"It was deemed that the lighthouse was no longer needed as a daymark.

"It is built of granite so the paint is purely aesthetic. The structure itself will not degrade even if the paint is left to fall off."

Trinity House is paid by ship owners to provide navigation aids.

"We can only spend the money ship owners give us on valid navigation aids," said Mr Millyard.

"If somebody was willing to fund the painting of the lighthouse I would be very pleased to organise it."

Rob Wassell, former chairman of Belle Toute Preservation Trust, said Beachy Head lighthouse should be maintained as it was.

"It is very much part of the landscape of this area.

"These days we are so concentrated on how much things cost but we should just spend that little bit extra and keep it the way we love it."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites