Orkney & Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, keeps pressure on the MCA over the future of Sumburgh and Stornoway coastguard helicopter service. Photo: Bristow Group
Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has warned that a review into the future of coastguard helicopter must include a full risk assessment, following a meeting with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
Joining a meeting yesterday to discuss the future of the helicopter services from both Sumburgh and Stornaway organised by Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil, the MCA confirmed that its review into the proposals will report in July of this year.
Mr Carmichael previously led a debate in Parliament to raise local concerns about plans to change the Sumburgh helicopter response time from 15 minutes to a full hour, and secured agreement from ministers to review the proposals.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Carmichael said:
“This was a useful meeting to re-state the serious concerns people in the isles have about planned cutbacks to the coastguard helicopter. Confirmation that the review will report back in July this year is welcome, but we have to see what form this review will take.
“Any review which does not include a full risk assessment of the proposals is not worth the paper on which it is written. This is not just a matter of the number of callouts – the proposed quadrupling of response times would make the helicopter search-and-rescue service far less able to respond to the most dangerous situations at sea.
“We also need clarity from the MCA on how their agreement with Bristow progressed so far without any consultation in the communities affected – and why Bristow employees were being briefed on the plans while the rest of us were still in the dark. We are making progress, but the MCA will have to make greater efforts to restore trust with island communities.”
Source: Press Release