Hebridean Coastline
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Opposition to Stornoway Coastguard Closure PDF Print E-mail
About Coast Hebrides - News
Friday, 28 January 2011 10:20

At the CoastHebrides meeting on 25th January, the local coastal partnership members strongly stated their opposition to the closure or any reduction of service at Stornoway Coastguard Station which is the prospect under cost-cutting measures proposed by Mike Penning, Transport Minister at the UK Government and Sir Alan Massey, Chief Executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency

It was said that if closure is enforced, the knowledge held by Stornoway Coastguard staff of the coastlines of the islands and west coast mainland in Northwest Scotland would be lost and this will be catastrophic in the event of life threatening incidents for the safety of mariners, local residents and visitors who use the seas and coast for work or leisure.

The Stornoway Coastguard Station is a vital facility for emergency service and rescue operations in the local area and its staff work and train with, and integrate into emergency response situations involving local police, fire and ambulance personnel.

Sea and weather conditions experienced around the Hebrides and Northwest Scotland can be compared with the most severe in Europe if not the world. The proposals set out by the Government and MCA are not in the cause of modernisation. Stornoway already has a modern facility, the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre which opened in 1994 and has been upgraded on an ongoing basis since then. This is purely a cost-cutting exercise and what price does the Government and MCA put on lives which could be lost in the absence of Stornoway Coastguard Station.

The threat to the Stornoway Coastguard Station comes at a time when the Department of Transport and MCA propose to withdraw the Emergency Towing Vessel from Stornoway as a further cost-cutting exercise. The tug entered service after the Braer oil tanker disaster which resulted in 86,000 tonnes of oil polluting the shores of Shetland to devastating effect. CoastHebrides maintains that such a disaster could reoccur especially as tankers regularly use the Minch. If no tug is stationed locally, addressing any future disaster will be reactive after the damage is done rather than proactive as is the present situation.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 April 2011 16:07