Thursday, 16 December 2010

Coast not guarded?

The UK government is proposing to axe a number of coastguard stations along the coast of Scotland in order to save money. Under current thinking (if there has been any thinking involved with this plan at all), only the station at Aberdeen would operate 24/7, with either Lerwick or Stornoway kept as a part-time (daylight only) cover. The other stations, at Clyde and Forth, would be shut permanently.

I'll go so far as to describe that as sheer lunacy. This is typical bureaucratic pen pushing, a scheme dreamt up by someone in an office in central London, who does not have an inkling what goes on north of the proverbial Watford Gap.

Two fifth of the UK coastline covered by only ONE station? The very stretch of coastline that can experience the severest weather in the country? Today has already seen the Coastguard in action off Harris, with the helicopter (also potentially up for sale) dropping off pumps on board a leaking fishing vessel, and the RNLI lifeboat escorting it into Stornoway. Without Coastguard facilities present, things might have been coordinated from Aberdeen, but with all respect to the Coastguards there, they are unfamiliar with the vagaries of the Outer Hebrides coastline. And without a helicopter, the crew of the fishing boat would have been in dire straits, if not in danger of their life.


  1. B****y disgraceful!!!Of course ships only get into trouble of the english coast. The scottish coast has a reputation for being the safest place to sail on the world-NOT.I hope everybody in Scotland will react and oppose this,not onlt those who make a living from the sea,because today its the coastguard tmorrow the mountain rescue teams.

  2. It does seem illogical. I can see that the English Channel coast would be a hotspot because it's so busy, but 3 full-time stations for the whole of Britain seems a bit inadequate to say the least.

  3. Has anyone taken note of the number of marine accidents that take place in the dark ? Remember the stranding in the Summer Isles.
    What is the maritime experience of the Minister concerned?

  4. "Sheer lunacy" is a polite way of putting it. Further evidence (if any were needed) that no Government in London has ever known (or cared) about anything that happens in Scotland.

  5. Your problem is that you're looking for logic and clear thinking amongst 'official' policy ...
    Call me an ostrich if you like, but I stopped doing that many years ago ...! It was part of my anger management solution ...

    Whilst on retreat recently, I spoke for a long time with a couple of members of Alcoholics Anonymous, who were also on retreat, and a more friendly pair you could never hope to meet ...
    They told me about the Twelve Step Plan which had turned their lives around ...
    Part of the Plan is to regularly take 'Inventory' of the things which are giving them problems, and they offered to do this for me, as a friendly exercise ... I ventured the opinion that they would have neither enough time nor enough paper to record all the knowledge which I regularly suppress from the front of my mind in an effort to remain calm and useful ...

    However, they insisted, and I retrieved a few gems, such as:-

    Getting rid of matrons from hospital, outsourcing cleaning to the lowest bidder, and then complaining that you can't control MRSA, also
    Cutting schooling methods and resources down to the bone and then complaining that children come out of school still ignorant in many ways ...
    Paying locum doctors on the islands between £100,000 and £200,000 per annum, and then complaining that your health authority has no money - surprise, surprise ...

    They said that all my issues fell under the same category - perceived injury done not directly to me, but seen as lowering the standards I would normally expect in life in general, for no good reason ...

    They told me that unless I planned to do something about it personally myself, that there was nothing to gain, from a personal sanity viewpoint, by hanging on to feelings of anger about these things ... I have to let them go ...
    One of the sayings of AA is that we should stop trying to fight *everybody* and *everything*, and concentrate on our own life ...
    I'm inclined to agree with this ... For myself, anyhow ...
    (and beginning to think this should've been its own blog - sorry ...!)

  6. Thanks for sharing that, SL. By whichever means, it is sometimes useful to take stock of what is bothering you - to try to identify excess baggage, worthy of throwing out.

  7. There is an online petition re the above subject--I've just signed it!

  8. Truly thought-provoking Soaplady. I think you're right about the blog:-)

  9. Please support our campaign to stay open. We are asking for responses to the MCA consultation document.

    They can be electronically input, anyone wishing assistance with technical matters can e-mail us at: and we will assist with any queries.

    The document is on the MCA website (

    This is a retrograde step for coastal safety and environmental protection of the UK coast. Please make all aware how dangerous this is and sign up to our facebook campaign "save stornoway coastguard"

  10. Rubaduk, I would tend to agree with your comments on the survey. I think I am going to leave it to others, reluctantly, to put the case more eloquently and better founded than I could - as ordinary member of the public.

    Having worked in the civil service for a number of years, I recognise the signs of officialdom and deskbased penpushers, bereft of any connection with the reality of the ground. They remind me of the gentleman who once ventured out with an umbrella, intent to walk to the Council Offices in Stornoway - whilst it was blowing a force 8. He nearly flew away, brolly and all.

    MCA: this does little to help your cause for retaining the station at Stornoway.

  11. I hope this crazy bill won't go through.I've made the following statement on this and other blogs on IB before---the coastguard and mountain rescue teams do a wonderful ,and very dangerous job and I don't feel the general public thank or support them enough,so i'll say it yet again""THANKS AND GOD BLESS"all you guys for the jobs you do;(sorry arnish for hogging your blog)

  12. I have sat down and finished the survey. In summary, I have said that the proposals would lengthen response times, and cost lives. Unacceptable.