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In what should be the final steps towards legalisation of the use of PLBs in Ireland the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), Ireland's regulatory body, has signalled an approval for the go ahead.
Following a close study of the benefits of enabling PLBs to be used in the case of land based emergencies where life is in danger, ComReg proposes that permission for the use of PLBs, like McMurdo's hugely popular Fast Find, is extended beyond the current usage which is limited to people possessing either a ship's or radio license. Instead, as in other countries, the user would register his or her PLB under the new regulatory framework.
Up until now in Ireland the Coast Guard has been tasked with responding to EPIRB and ELT activations, as well as those from PLBs, and has access to the information on the registration databases which are maintained by the Marine Radio Affairs Unit of the Department of Transport (MRAU) and the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) respectively.
However, the growing popularity of the use of personal safety beacons like PLBs has raised the issue of a solution to saving lives, whilst providing the resources to support response and rescue services potentially on a large scale.
Although a precise timeframe is not known ComReg will now be moving forward to introduce the new law to make PLBs licence-exempt but apply control through mandatory PLB user registration.
The ComReg ruling is a giant step forward and is expected to influence the UK's current consultation on the legalisation of PLBs, a move urgently hoped for by many who are at risk outdoors in remote areas.