Representatives of Shetland Islands Council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Coastguard Campaigners will be presenting petitions containing over 28,000 signatures to the Prime Minister on Tuesday.
The petitions call for the Government to rethink their proposals for the future of the Coastguard Service. The Outer Hebrides petition contains just over 15,000 signatures whilst there are 13,000 on the Shetland petition.
The Coastguard and local authority representatives are handing the petitions into 10 Downing Street accompanied by Alistair Carmichael, Government Deputy Chief Whip and Shetland MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Ann McKechin MP and Angus Robertson MP, SNP leader at Westminster. Angus Macneil, MP for the Western Isles, will also be present.
Angus Campbell Leader of Comhairle nan EIlean Siar said: “The people of the Shetland Isles and the Outer Hebrides have made their views quite clear. To get 15,000 people putting their names to a petition out of a total population of 26,000 is quite remarkable. The people are opposed to the MCA proposals for the Coastguard service. We have today passed on these views to the Prime Minister and we would hope that he is listening. These proposals will risk lives.
We have put forward a positive alternative plan which will allow savings to be made but will retain the 24 hour Coastguard Stations at both Shetland and in Stornoway. We urge the Government and the MCA to ditch their proposals.”
Martin Collins, Safety First Campaign Spokesman and Nautilus International Representative said: “We have received tremendous support from the public throughout the Northwest of Scotland, from the Western Isles, Skye, the Small Isles and the Mainland. It has driven us forward and kept our spirits alive to know that the service we provide now, and hope to provide in the future, is appreciated and vital to communities of this part of the country.
Coastguards take pride in what they do, no matter where we are in the country. We are here to keep the seas and shores of our country safe and we don’t feel we can do this effectively if the current proposals go through. This petition says that the public agree.”
The MCA proposals would result in only one 24 hour Coastguard Station in Scotland at Aberdeen and a daylight only service at either Shetland or Stornoway.