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Friday, 11 October, 2002, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Lives at risk if helicopter moved
Coastguard helicopter
Portland's coastguard helicopter may move 60 miles
Plans to relocate a South West coastguard helicopter 60 miles have raised fears about maritime safety.

The plan involves moving the aircraft from Portland in Dorset, to Lee-on-Solent in Hampshire.

A former Dorset MP says he believes that people in Devon may then have to rely on a rescue helicopter from as far away as Bristol.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency insists no decisions have yet been made.


We have more and more people both diving and sailing. Time delay means people will die

Ian Bruce
Coastguards have an obligation to reach all high-risk, and three quarters of medium-risk areas, within an hour of being alerted.

If there was a major sea emergency, and it could not be dealt with by lifeboat, it is likely any crew in difficulty would be rescued by helicopter.

But former Dorset MP Ian Bruce said that if it is moved to Lee-on-Solent, the helicopter would not be able to cover the Torquay area.

He made his remarks while members of the House of Commons and Lords Yacht Club were into Torquay.

He said: "It's really a matter of timing.

"We have more and more people both diving and sailing and they need to have early rescue.

"Time delay means people will die. That's what's so important about it."

Military helicopter

However, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency says it would be able to request assistance from RAF Kinloss.

The RAF would then be able to send the nearest military helicopter.

That could be from the RAF's Chivenor base in north Devon.

The agency has also stressed that discussions about the future of the Portland helicopter are continuing.


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29 Jul 02 | England
16 Jul 02 | England
14 May 02 | England
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