The Coastguard, Emergency Towing Vessels and the Maritime Incident Response Group - Transport Committee Contents


78. The MCA hopes to save £20m a year by 2014-15 by restructuring the Coastguard Service, ending the state's Emergency Towing Vessels (ETV) contract and withdrawing funding from the Maritime Incident Response Group (MIRG). The three separate proposals are interlinked. Throughout our inquiry, we have seen how each facility plays an important part in saving lives at sea or protecting the coastal environment. We heard how the Coastguard work closely with the ETVs and regard the vessels as a crucial asset. ETVs have been used to support the delivery of MIRG operations. The impact of the funding reductions to these three services should be considered as a whole.

79. Taken together, the proposed changes to the co-ordination of the Coastguard and the potential loss of the ETVs and the MIRG represent a significant restructuring of the country's marine search and rescue and accident and pollution prevention capabilities. It is regrettable that the Department for Transport announced all three sets of maritime proposals with no prior consultation whatsoever and did not consider their combined impact.

80. We cannot support the MCA's proposals on the future of the Coastguard in their current form. We oppose the withdrawal of funding for the ETVs because we feel there is no alternative in place, but we welcome efforts to find alternative revenue streams to cover their costs. We oppose ceasing central funding to the MIRG because local fire services cannot and should not be expected to support a national strategy. Whilst we recognise the pressure on the Government to make financial savings, we cannot support proposals that reduce maritime safety in this way.

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Prepared 23 June 2011