Coastguard cover rethink urged by Cornwall Council

Falmouth Coastguard Station
Image caption Falmouth would cease 24-hour operations under the plans for the future of the MCA

Plans for a radical overhaul of coastguard cover must be changed to protect lives off the coast of Cornwall, it has been claimed.

Falmouth's 24-hour cover would be scrapped and coastguard stations around the UK could be cut from 18 to eight.

In an open letter to Shipping Minister Mike Penning, Cornwall Council has called the plan "illogical".

Truro and Falmouth MP Sarah Newton has secured a Westminster Hall debate on the issue on Wednesday.

'International reputation'

Julian German, Cornwall Council member for maritime issues, said: "Falmouth has a well deserved international reputation as a centre of excellence for search and rescue.

"We believe there would be an increased risk to sea users if Cornwall were to lose this service."

Under the plans for the future of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), Falmouth would become a sub-centre, operating only during daylight hours.

Brixham in south Devon would close, as would Portland in Dorset. The nearest station operating round-the-clock cover would be on the Solent.

Mrs Newton (Con) said she did not believe the MCA plans had taken into account "the important role that is played by the internationally renowed coastguard station in Falmouth".

The council letter, signed by the leaders of all parties, also cites concerns about the possible loss or reduction of Emergency Towing Vessels (ETV's) and the likely loss of the Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service maritime incident response group (MIRG).

The effect, it says, would be "a severe loss to our resilience".

Consultation on the MCA plans ends on 24 March.

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