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Assessments undertaken on airport water rescue craft

The Sumburgh based water rescue craft being launched from West Voe. Photo: Ronnie Robertson

ISLAND and community impact assessments have been undertaken by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) as part of its review of its water rescue fleet, which includes a craft at Sumburgh Airport.

It is understood there have been assurances given locally that the rescue craft at Sumburgh is not likely to be under threat and that it could be replaced with a different model.

Seven of HIAL’s 11 airports have water rescue provision, including rescue craft, a jet ski and a mud rescue team. They are based at Sumburgh, Barra, Benbecula, Dundee, Islay, Kirkwall and Stornoway.

Fast rescue craft allow crews to head out onto the water in case of an accident.

A spokesperson for HIAL said island and community impact assessments have now been undertaken as part of the review, which was first revealed last year.

“As part of the review process, a programme of community engagement will be undertaken in the summer,” they added.

“Changes to existing provision, if deemed necessary, will be made once the review is completed.”

Sumburgh Airport’s rescue craft was used after the Super Puma helicopter crash in which four people died off the coast of Shetland in 2013.

However, it took almost an hour to reach the scene due to tidal conditions – leading to an investigation calling for the launching slipway at Quendale, which is to the west of the airport, to be modified to avoid the tide issues in the future.

The nearest water based rescue service to Sumburgh Airport after the airport craft is the Lerwick lifeboat some 25 miles away.

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