Search and Rescue plans for North Devon to be examined by Government
NORTH Devon politicians have “got a foot in the door” in the fight to keep a Search and Rescue Service presence in the area.
The news comes after Sir Nick Harvey MP and members of North Devon Council met with Department for Transport and Bristow Helicopter Ltd representatives at the Civic Centre in Barnstaple this morning.
Earlier this year the Government revealed its plans to hand over the running of the service to Bristow, and in July the company confirmed it planned to pull out of North Devon.
Bristow’s plans detailed how the Search and Rescue service would relocate from RMB Chivenor to St Athan in South Wales, when the company takes over the service from 2015.
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But following this morning’s meeting the leader of North Devon Council, Brian Greenslade, is hopeful the company will reconsider its plans to pull out of North Devon completely.
Speaking shortly after the meeting he told the Journal how Bristow and the DfT have agreed to look into the possibility of using Chivenor, where the Search and Rescue service is currently based, as a forward staging post for the new service.
“It was fairly predictable,” said Mr Greenslade. “I’d love to be able to say we’ve cracked it and the service is staying but I don’t think we realistically expected that.
“We pushed the case of having a forward base and I do think the fact we got them down here is positive.
“The business case for doing it hasn’t been looked at but it’s now being followed up and Nick Harvey will ask a parliamentary question about it to ensure it is.
“I can’t give any answers about whether we’ll win the argument, but the door’s not closed.”
Despite being pleased with the outcome of the meeting Mr Greenslade also expressed concern about the existing plans.
“We asked about the flying time from St Athan to North Devon and were told it’s 12 minutes,” he said.
“These new aircraft may be speedier but if someone’s drowning 12 minutes is still too long.”