Fight to save Clyde base

SOUTH Ayrshire Council will write to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency voicing their opposition to plans to close the Clyde Coastguard station in Greenock.

Elected members were unanimous in their agreement that this service should be retained and backed a motion from council leader Bill McIntosh to register their opposition to the proposed closure.

Under plans by UK Government the Clyde station, also the busiest station in Scotland, would be closed and the waters would be served by the base in Northern Ireland.

However, a number of councillors who are sailors themselves argued that, while they may be good at their job, the distance is too far and they have no local knowledge for the area’s water.

Councillor McIntosh said: “This is the busiest station in Scotland – both in terms of search and rescue hours and incidents attended and is the second busiest base in the UK.

“In 2010, Clyde Coastguard assisted 2,357 people and saved the lives of 539 members of the public – that’s over 10 lives a week. Closing the service will, quite simply, put lives at risk.

“We are extremely concerned at the proposals from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency that Clyde Coastguard should close and will do all we can to oppose this.

Councillor Nan McFarlane, Leader of the SNP group, stressed the importance of the local knowledge that the Clyde Coastguard has of these waters.

She said: “As a sailor myself, I know how important it is to keep our seas, lochs and rivers safe. The Clyde Coastguard service has critical local knowledge, which it uses to co-ordinate other emergency responders and its loss could have tragic consequences. A clear rationale for closure has not been provided, including consideration of the safeguards required to keep the Clyde Coast waterways safe to fishermen, divers, sailors, ferries, commercial traffic and tugs.

“This could jeopardise our efforts to fully capitalise on the potential of the South Ayrshire coastline and the further development of sailing between Scotland and Northern Ireland. We need to save our Coastguard.”

The council will now write to the MCA and will seek support from the First Minister, local MPs, MSPs and communities to keep the base open.