Fears over plans to lose Yarmouth coastguard

A MARINE conservation group fears future rescue attempts may be compromised if the government unrolls its plans to close Great Yarmouth coastguard station.

Marinet believes a closure of the coastguard station will lead to a loss of local knowledge, which is vital for guiding the emergency services swiftly and safely to incidents.

The organisation has been joined by the North Sea Action Group in backing a campaign to maintain a local coastguard service in the county by signing a petition launched by Norfolk County Councillor Paul Rice.

Pat Gowan, a spokesman for Marinet, said some of the recent rescue attempts made on the county’s coastline may never have happened if it was not for the local knowledge at the Yarmouth station.

He also feels there are a number of threats facing the Norfolk coastline which warrant constant attention by a local coastguard station, including the impact of global warming.

He said: “The dredging we are getting is cutting into the sea bed in some areas by five metres. As a result, we are getting deeper waters, which is making our coastline more hazardous and creating more eddies in our waters.

“Meanwhile, we also have an increase in the number of oil tankers passing through waters off the coast of Southwold. If one of these tankers was to go awry then we could be dealing with a potential oil spill.”

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The proposed cuts by transport secretary Philip Hammond will see eight stations closing across England, Scotland and Wales.

Mr Rice, a county councillor for the South Smallburgh division, launched a government e-petition to try and save the Yarmouth coastguard station, which has been earmarked for closure between 2012 and 2014/15.

Mr Rice has collected more than 700 paper petitions and is close to reaching 100 signatures on his online petition.

Up to 30 people will lose their jobs in Yarmouth at Havenbridge House.

It is believed the Norfolk coastline and Broads would be covered by coastguard stations in Southampton, Bridlington and Dover.

Stations set to close are in Crosby, Clyde, Forth, Portland, Yarmouth, Brixham, Thames and Swansea.

Falmouth, Holyhead, Milford Haven, Belfast, Aberdeen, Humber, Stornaway and Shetland will remain, and a small station in London will be retained.

To sign the hard copy petition, contact Paul Rice on 07920286622 or email paul.rice@norfolk.gov.uk

To sign the e-petition, log on to http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/14027