Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Mike MacKenzie has commended the efforts of campaigners from Shetland and Lewis who joined with SNP MPs in London today to deliver a 28,000 strong petition to Downing Street registering serious concerns about proposed cuts and closures to Coastguard services affecting Scotland.
Mike MacKenzie said,:
"One of the first Press Releases I issued after being elected to the Scottish Parliament last month was to indicate my support for the submission from CalMac about the concerns that they felt about the proposals to cut services and close down coastguard facilities north of the border. CalMac's stated concerns were that the priority driving these proposals appeared to be to make coastguard services cheaper to provide rather than any action that might provide improvements to safety at sea. They were also concerned that the MCA proposals appeared very shortly after the proposed removal of Emergency Towing Vehicles (ETVs) from the Minch area and yet failed even to mention this additional threat.
The petition protesting those cuts to the coastguard service was delivered to Downing Street today and the SNP Transport spokesman , the MP for Na Eileanan an Iar, Angus MacNeil warned that lives would be at risk if the government did not reconsider those damaging proposals and place maritime safety at the head of the Coastguard agenda.
Mr MacNeil said;
"With increased activity on Scotland's seas through oil and gas exploration, offshore renewables burgeoning along with fishing, tourist and ferry activity there are very real concerns about the effect of the present proposals which would leave Scotland's coastal waters, with 60% of the UK sea area with around 25% of the available cover. We could make much more effective choices for Scotland in Scotland rather than leave those decisions to London."