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Calls for Scotland to control coastgaurd

THE SCOTTISH government has called for the coastguard in Scotland to be brought under Holyrood control during a parliamentary debate on Thursday.

Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead told MSPs the government was dismayed by the UK government’s plans to close three of Scotland’s five coastguard stations, leaving just Aberdeen open 24 hours a day.

The SNP government will now run its own consultation on how the coastguard service would best be managed in Scotland, including devolving control.

Mr Lochhead said: “Maritime safety – not financial savings – should be the driving force behind any review and the Scottish government is closely examining the rational for the closure of any of these services.

“With ever increasing activity on Scotland’s seas – through oil and gas, offshore renewables, fishing and tourism – I have real concerns over the UK government’s ability to manage the coastguard service.

“That’s why we are seeking views on how this valuable public service can best be managed in Scotland, including the merits of devolution.

“The UK government announcement came as a complete surprise to the Scottish government as there had been no formal discussion on the matter. This is unacceptable and is contrary to the ‘respect agenda’ agreed last year.

“The first minister will be writing to the prime minister to express his disappointment that matters with clear implications for Scotland are not being handled sensitively.”