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MPs reject Government’s plans for Coastguard service

The UK Government should withdraw its “seriously flawed” proposals to modernise the Coastguard Service – according to the cross-party Transport Committee.

One of the proposed changes is the closure of either the Shetland or Stornoway coastguard stations. If Shetland closes, it would leave the Northern Isles served by Aberdeen.

Launching the report, Transport Committee chairwoman Louise Ellman said:  “We found little support for the current proposals and we have no confidence that, under these proposals, the Coastguard will, in future, be able to respond to emergencies at sea as well as they do now, let alone in a more effective way.”

She added: “A drastic reduction in the number of rescue co-ordination centres will result in a loss of local knowledge amongst coastguard officers, who are responsible for taking calls from people and vessels in distress. The committee is not convinced by the Government’s claim that technology can, at present, replace such local knowledge.”

The committee also strongly condemned the withdrawal of the four Emergency Towing Vessels (ETVs) — one of which covers the Northern Isles.

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