Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) staff and contractors are back at work at the Butt of Lewis lighthouse, after suspending work on the major landmark building during lockdown.
All NLB’s maintenance and repair work was delayed or postponed to protect contractors, staff and the public during the Coronavirus crisis. A spokesman for NLB said: “Now that the Scottish Government has initiated a recovery plan we have an operational need to return to these suspended projects in order to complete them before the winter.”
Contracted workers are staying in rented accommodation in the Ness area and taking ‘every precaution’ to avoid unnecessary contact with the local community.
The Northern Lighthouse Board is an essential service under the terms of the Coronavirus (COVID-19): construction sector guidance, issued on 28 May, for the transport sector. Safe and effective operation of the transport network is essential to the national response to COVID-19.
NLB’s project leader, Graeme Macdonald, said: “Our contractor, TRAC, resumed work on site on 2 July after putting in place measures to allow safe working under Covid-19 restrictions. They have been staying in self-catering accommodation not far from the lighthouse.
“Fortunately a lot of the work has been external painting of buildings, so it's not been too difficult to complete the work while socially distancing, and the good weather for most of July has allowed them make good progress.
“Next week their electrician will arrive on site to get to work on the electrical refit in readiness for the new fixed LED light to be commissioned and we've scheduled to have everything complete by the end of September.”
The work at the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse includes replacing the rotating optic with a static flashing LED, similar to those already installed at Tiumpanhead and Scalpay lighthouses. NLB are also refurbishing and redecorating the tower and mess facilities in the neighbouring building.
Graeme said: “The Butt of Lewis lighthouse has been guiding mariners safely through Scottish waters for over 150 years. This essential refurbishment and upgrade work means this iconic lighthouse will be fit for purpose for many more years to come.”
The lighthouse was built by David Stevenson in 1862 and was converted to automatic operation on 30 March 1998.
Picture shows Butt of Lewis lighthouse before work commenced (NLB).