Portland Coastguard base could shut in Maritime Search and Rescue changes
The Portland Coastguard facility could be closed as part of proposed changes to the Maritime Search and Rescue Service, councillors have warned.
South West MEP Ashley Fox visited the threatened airbase along with Dorset councillors, and heard from staff their concerns about the base's future.
The Portland Search and Rescue helicopter serves around 25 per cent of Coastguard call-outs.
It is hoped upgraded helicopters will provide a more efficient service, but the Portland helicopter, along with a vehicle in Northumberland could face the axe.
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"There is always a need to modernise the Search and Rescue service, but I do not believe that an upgrade in equipment should lead to a downgrade in the number of bases - particularly as the Portland and Lea on Solent helicopters are already of the modern faster variety" said Mr Fox.
"Portland Seach and Rescue has saved hundreds of lives and should be retained to protect our coasts in the future."
Richard Drax, MP for South Dorset launched a petition last year to save the Portland Helicopter. So far, the online petition has over 15,000 signatures.
Cllr Ian Bruce, Dorset County Council's councillor for Portland said: "I am even more convinced that we should not be halving the helicopter coverage in this the busiest sector of the UK's coastline.
"It appears Ministers are being told putting modern helicopters in the stations that currently have Sea Kings somehow justifies taking our modern Helicopter away."