Belfast Telegraph

Foyle Pilots' Co-Operative to fight port training plans

By Alan Erwin

A group of seamen has won legal permission to challenge a planned new training regime for steering ships into a Northern Ireland port.

Foyle Pilots' Co-Operative was granted leave at the High Court to seek a judicial review of the scheme due to be implemented at Lough Foyle.

Lawyers for the group claim existing safety standards are being jettisoned for money-saving reasons linked to a £2m black hole.

The Co-Operative, made up of self-employed men operating on a 12-month service contract, is trying to stop the proposed changes at Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners.

Under the current system they can board cargo ships of up to 200m in length to help them navigate the channels.

They were described in court as "the font of all knowledge" about the lough.

But as it stands, the current pilots are due to finish working their 12 months' notice early next year.

Current arrangements which involve pilots spending up to two years on probation are being ditched for a system which includes three months using a simulator, the court heard.

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