Shipping Minister dismisses speculation over Coastguard u-turn

Shipping Minister Mike Penning has dismissed the speculation that the UK Government is planning a u-turn on the Coastguard station closure proposals.

Speaking to Isles MP Angus MacNeil this morning, Mr Penning said: “No way in the world have we made any decisions on any stations.”

There are widespread media reports that the plans are to be abandoned or scaled down but there has been no official confirmation.

The meeting of the Transport Select Committee is underway in the Caladh Inn in Stornoway where evidence on the plans will be taken from various bodies.

Chair of the Committee, Louise Ellman MP, said: “I’m pleased to hear reports the Minister is reconsidering but I don’t know if they are correct or know what new proposals they may be putting forward.”

Western Isles MSP has welcomed the decision of the UK Parliament’s Transport Select Committee to take evidence in Stornoway today, particularly amid press reports that the UK Government are now “reconsidering” some of their most drastic proposals to cut coastguard stations.

Speaking from the Scottish Parliament, Alasdair Allan commented:

“Today’s press reports that the UK Government and MCA are thinking again about their proposals for cuts can only be welcomed. They will no doubt be something Westminster’s Transport Select Committee will want to touch on today as it meets in Stornoway.

“There is unity across the community in the islands that the proposals to cut either the Stornoway or Shetland coastguard stations would be bad news for safety at sea and potentially for the environment too. A very reasoned case has been made in the Western Isles for retaining the station in Stornoway and I hope that this will now be considered much more seriously by the UK Government. Those arguments can only be further amplified by the select committee’s meeting in the islands today.”