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Radio Navigation System

Volume 175: debated on Thursday 28 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what information he has regarding the current attitude of the Danish authorities towards participation in a civil Loran C marine radio navigation system to cover north-west Europe and the north Atlantic and to the siting of a transmitter station in the Faroes;(2) pursuant to his answer of 25 April,

Official Report, column 195, to the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price), what estimate his Department has made of the cost to the fishing industry in the United Kingdom of the proposed change from the Decca navigation system to the Loran C system; and what proposals he is considering to assist the industry to meet the costs of the changeover;

(3) with which countries his Department has discussed the proposal for an international civil Loran C system of marine radio navigation aid to cover north-west Europe and the north Atlantic; and what progress has been made in these discussions;

(4) what representations he has received from the fishing industry regarding his proposals on the length of transitional period required to convert from the existing Decca navigation system to the Loran C radio navigation system; and if he will make a statement.

Discussions on the proposed north-west European Loran C system have been undertaken with Canada, Denmark, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands and Norway. Discussions are still proceeding, both on technical issues and on the draft of an international agreement. The Danish authorities have not yet reached a final decision on their participation. A Loran C transmitter already exists in the Faroes. The United Kingdom's continued participation is dependent on a satisfactory agreement being reached within an acceptable time scale.I have received no representations from the fishing industry about the transitional period since my right hon. Friend's announcement in April. This envisaged a period of over three years' joint operation of the Decca and Loran C systems before closure of the Decca service in 1997. The fishing industry had earlier urged the longest possible transition, ideally up to five years.I accept there would be additional costs to users where it proved necessary to replace Decca receivers prematurely. No conclusive forecast can be made of such costs, which depend on a variety of individual circumstances, including the age of receivers and the operating environment. Since six years' notice would be given of the ending of the Decca service, a significant proportion of receivers would be replaced in this period in the normal course of events, whether through wear and tear or more attractive technology. I have no proposals for financial assistance to users to meet the costs of change.