The powerful House of Commons Transport Select Committee is to report tomorrow [11th December] on its second hearing into the rearrangements for nationwide coastguard cover being implemented by the Department for Transport and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency [MCA].
The Select Committee’s report is eagerly awaited by all concerned with this matter, since it involves the closure of ten coastguard stations – acting as incident coordination and rescue centres across the UK.
Scotland is losing both of the stations guarding the sea areas around its two major central belt ports. For Argyll bhas published extensively on this matter, so readers will be well aware that Forth Coastguard has closed already; and Clyde is effectively closed but officially shuts down on 18th December.
The National Coastguard SOS campaign, which has been assiduously fighting against the plan and the associated station closures, has this morning issued a statement in advance of the release of the Select Committee report tomorrow.
The National Coastguard SOS campaign statement
‘Two years ago today the UK Government began the systematic dismantling of the HM Coastguard rescue coordination centre structure. Their (current) plan is to close eight centres around the UK coast and replace them with a centralised call centre option.
‘Coastguard officers, maritime stakeholders and campaigners have repeatedly warned of the dangers of such a move but Government Ministers and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) have ploughed on regardless of what the experts have said and have already closed Forth Coastguard. Clyde coastguard has in effect already been closed for a month ahead of it’s “formal” closure date of December 18th. Next on the axe list is Yarmouth Coastguard which is planned for closure on 1st May 2013.
‘The influential Transport Select Committee have conducted two inquiries into the closure plans and the second report will be published at 00.01 hrs tomorrow (11.12.12). Campaigners hope that the Committee will strongly challenge the closure process as they did in their first inquiry.
‘Two years on and the National Coastguard SOS Campaign group are still challenging the closure plans and insist that they will continue to do so until Government Ministers and MCA bosses accept that with position comes responsibility. Dennis O’Connor from the campaign group said this morning: “We will not idly sit back and watch the dangers to those who use the UK coast for commercial or leisure purposes increase.
‘ “Government Ministers and MCA bosses are overseeing a flawed process and one that is dangerous and un-workable and we urge them to stop this now for the sake of safety”. ‘