Plans to close half of the coastguard stations across Britain are rejected

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Plans to close more than half of the coastguard stations around Britain, and cut the opening hours of the remaining nine, are to be abandoned because of concerns to peoples’ lives.

Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, has decided to redesign the plans after outcries from coastal communities and widespread opposition from Conservative MPs. They said that the loss of local knowledge would endanger those at sea. In addition, they saw pushing through an idea that would not significantly cut costs (only £210 million would be saved over the next 25 years) as highly unpopular.

The losses at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) would have cut the number of rescue stations along the 10,500 miles of British coastline from 19 to nine, with nearly half of the service’s full-time staff losing their jobs.

According to the rejected plans, only four stations would have been manned 24 hours a day, despite 30% of incidents happening at night. All 19 centres currently operate around the clock. Scotland’s five full-time coastguard stations would have been reduced to just one, in Aberdeen.

There will now be a comprehensive rethink of the plans, which will allow several more centres to be kept open, although it has not been decided how many. Final details of the new reforms are due to be published before the summer recess.

Sarah Newton, the Tory MP for Truro & Falmouth, who led the rebellion, said: “I will continue to push the Government to make sure the MCA scrap the original proposals and work with coastguards around the UK on alternative modernisation plans.”