RNLI to trial new lifeboat station in the Western Isles

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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has approved the trial operation of a new lifeboat station on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

The proposed location is at Leverburgh, adjacent to the Sound of Harris where an all-weather lifeboat will operate on a trial basis for a minimum of 12 months starting next year. The new lifeboat station will improve the operational lifeboat cover between RNLI stations in Stornoway and Barra, which are 135 miles apart, and Portree. The date for the start of the trial has not yet been set.

The trial was approved yesterday (Wednesday 2 November) by the RNLI’s Trustees and follows a recommendation from the charity’s Operations Committee, which reviewed the provision of RNLI lifeboats in the area and concluded there was a strong operational case for locating an additional all-weather lifeboat at Leverburgh.

In recent years the RNLI received representations from the South Harris Community Council, which has campaigned for a lifeboat to be based in the Sound of Harris for some time.

Volunteers are already coming forward to crew the Mersey class lifeboat, operate the station and raise funds for the station’s operating costs.

Michael Vlasto, the RNLI’s Operations Director, said: ‘I am delighted that the RNLI’s Trustees have agreed to this trial and look forward to improving our lifesaving capacity in the challenging shallows waters of the Sound of Harris, the Minch and around the Outer Hebrides.

Paul Jennings, the RNLI’s Divisional Inspector in Scotland, said, ‘We have been looking at this idea for some time. This decision is about us providing a level of support to an exposed and isolated community where the casualty potential warrants the establishment of an all-weather lifeboat station. We hope that people will continue to step forward to volunteer for their local lifeboat and make the trial the success it deserves to be’.

Paul Jennings will be visiting Leverburgh on 7 November when the community will have the opportunity to meet and talk about the plans.