MPS have expressed "deep concerns" about the Coalition's decision to close two of Scotland's coastguard centres, and said the Government must do more to explain the decision.
In a report, the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee said it was worried that, despite an extensive Whitehall consultation, those on the front line felt they had been excluded from the process.
The committee said there had been no satisfactory explanation for the decision to close the Clyde and Forth bases, which will leave the Central Belt, with the highest level of population, without a coastguard station.
Loading article content
Committee members expressed particular concern there would be a major gap in local knowledge among coastguards in the remaining four centres. The MPs argued the Government had clearly failed so far to make a convincing case for the proposed changes to HM Coastguard in Scotland, and had to do more to provide reassurance to seafarers who could need to contact the coastguard in an emergency.
The committee noted how the Transport Minister and the chief executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency had said robust and extensive testing was being done before the closure of the Clyde centre to ensure the stations which would take over its area of responsibility – Belfast and Stornoway – would do so seamlessly.
Committee member Lindsay Roy MP added: "Along with many people in the Fife and Tay estuaries in particular, I remain concerned about the premature closure of Fife Ness station.
"The estuaries have become increasingly busy over recent years, with growth in commercial shipping and leisure activities, both offshore and along the coastlines."