Maritime and Coastguard Agency
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Consultation starts on search and rescue provision in the South West

Consultation starts on search and rescue provision in the South West

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 11 January 2010

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency starts a 12 week consultation on Search and Rescue provision in the southern part of the South West peninsula today.

The consultation considers the nature of the maritime-related public safety risks around the Southern part of the South West, and the adequacy of the range of rescue services available to deal with them if the additional MCA boats at Hope Cove and Tamar are no longer available, and, if a risk remains, how best that risk can be managed.

Her Majesty’s Coastguard is responsible throughout the UK for the co-ordination of maritime search and rescue operations. That service is available 24-hours-a-day, 365 days a year. Coastguard Officers draw on a range of rescue assets to provide the most appropriate response to individual situations.

These assets include helicopters, RNLI and independent lifeboats, other ships in the vicinity of an incident, and the volunteer Coastguard Rescue Service, members of which are specifically trained in search, mud and cliff rescue techniques.

To meet the changing needs of our society and in particular the diverse needs of beach and marine leisure users the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) reviews Search and Rescue requirements on a regular basis.

The Agency is arranging two local public meetings hosted by officials to allow local people with concerns to make representations.

Jim McWilliams, Head of Search and Rescue at the MCA said

"Safety for all on the beach, cliff or at sea remains our top priority.

"Currently our general purpose boats do not meet approved safety standards and either have been withdrawn from operation or placed under restricted operations in the interests of their volunteer crews and the public. We recognise we have a duty of care to those in the Coastguard Rescue Service.

"We will be using this period of consultation to listen to the views of our search and rescue partners and also to the views of local people and organisations with an interest."

Notes to Editors

• For the purposes of this consultation the southern part of the South West Peninsula is defined as being from the River Dart Devon, to Looe Cornwall, encompassing the coast of the South Hams, Plymouth and Caradon District Council areas.

• The locality starts on the west bank of the River Dart, including the cliffs and beaches westwards as far as Looe, Cornwall. To the east the area is primarily rural with a tourist population during the summer months. The city of Plymouth is incorporated in the locality and to the west the area is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which attracts many visitors throughout the year. The South West Coastal Path is accessible along the entire coastline.

• From 2004 to 2007 there were 251 incidents within the southern part of the South West Peninsula area, 39% involving beach activity, 36% involving vessels near the coast, 3% involving cliff rescue, 6% missing person searches and 16% defined as other which includes animal rescue.

• The MCA is a partner in the Sea Vision UK campaign to raise awareness and understanding of the sea and maritime activities. Sea Vision promotes the importance and economic value of the sector and works to highlight the exciting range of activities and career opportunities available to young people within the UK growing maritime sector.


Maritime and Coastguard Agency Press Office
Phone: 023 8032 9401

Mark Clark.
Phone: 023 8032 9414
Mobile: 07711 002678