North Sea platform concerns over coastguard cuts in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Published:  30 September, 2011

Proposals set out to cut the number of MCA staff and further plans suggest any key incident involving any North Sea oil platforms would be managed by senior MCA officers in the Maritime Operations Centre (MOC) that will be based nearly 400 miles away the Southampton/Portsmouth area.

This is a departure from existing, well established procedures that allow multi agency teams (including MCA managers, police and oil company representatives) to be based at the Aberdeen MRCC at short notice and co-ordinate the response from there.

Scotland's Rural Affairs and Environment Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "As part of the consultation exercise his department are carrying out, I would strongly urge the UK shipping Minister Mike Penning to visit this fantastic resource to see first-hand the work that goes on.

"The expertise and experience built up over more than 30 years in dealing with offshore incidents, particularly in the oil and gas sector, is hugely impressive.

"This experience and skills cannot be replicated elsewhere in the UK and so it is crucial this centre remains fully staffed and the centre point for any response to an incident in the north sea.

"I would also urge the UK Government to urgently reconsider their position on removing Scotland's emergency towing vessels from service this week and to think again about proposals to close the important Forth and Clyde coastguard services.

"Coastguard services do a crucial job protecting our coastline and precious marine environment from pollution incidents, as well as coordinating rescues out at sea.

"We must be absolutely sure that any modernisation of our maritime safety services is carried out to improve the safety of our maritime workers and give the agencies involved the tools they need to respond. Decisions which may end up being life or death simply should not be made for cost cutting reasons.

"The UK Government's current approach to modernising these services is uncoordinated at best. With proposed cuts across the country including downgrading Aberdeen MRCC and closure of the Forth and Clyde coastguard services, as well as ongoing uncertainty over the Air Rescue Co-ordination Centre at Kinloss, serious questions must be asked about how this is being handled."

  • Operation Florian

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