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Sunday, October 31, 2010

All at sea

Still got a huge amount of catching up to do, including writing a FOCUS and shooting over to Porthcawl this afternoon to take part in a demonstration against the possible scaling back or loss of the Chivenor search and rescue helicopter.

This review started under Labour and is continuing under the present administration. The Ministry of Defence claims that replacement cover can come from Culdrose in Cornwall, Anglesey and Lee-on-Solent in Hampshire by using faster helicopters but this will mean longer response times to emergencies across South Wales, putting lives at risk.

There may be a large reduction of cover for South Wales leaving the whole Bristol Channel area vulnerable in the event of an emergency. This includes major tourist destinations along the South Wales Coast.

These helicopter stations already have other duties and will not be able to deal with the hundred plus night emergencies currently covered by Chivenor due to their own commitments. The response time to the Bristol Channel from Culdrose is currently half an hour, Anglesey is an hour away, and Lee-on-Solent is even further away.

The proposal also assumes that one or other of these helicopters will be available for night emergencies in the Chivenor operational area, but there is no provision for a second helicopter and standby crew.

I have already written to the UK and Welsh Governments on this issue and the campaign continues.
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