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Carmichael happy with Penning

NORTHERN isles MP Alistair Carmichael has welcomed assurances from shipping minister Mike Penning that no decision on the future shape of the coastguard service will be taken until after the transport select committee has published the results of its enquiry into the matter.

When in Shetland last week, Mr Penning was adamant that the consultation into the modernisation of the coastguard was genuine, and that the final proposals for change would be different from those initially published.

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Under the current proposals, three of Scotland’s five coastguard stations will close, with either Shetland or Stornoway downgraded to a day-time only station. The only full time rescue centre in Scotland would be located in Aberdeen.

Following Thursday’s parliamentary debate on the issue, Mr Carmichael said he welcomed the shipping minister’s approach.

“I think what came through strongly from the debate was that this is a genuine consultation and substantial amendment of the proposals that have been put forward is by no means out of the question.

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“I was also pleased that during his speech, the Minister referred specifically to his recent visit to Shetland and touched upon a number of the concerns that local coastguard staff raised.

“As I have maintained since the start of this process, we should not oppose reforms for fear of change. However, it is only right that everyone with an interest in the future of the coastguard has the opportunity to comment on the proposals that have been put forward.

“The minister made clear that he is committed to the consultation process and is listening to the arguments that people in Shetland and elsewhere are making,” the LibDem MP said.

Note:
The full text of Thursday’s Westminster Hall debate is available online at: www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110324/halltext/110324h0002.htm 

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