Great Yarmouth coastguard HQ set to be axed

THE government has today (Thursday) announced plans to slash the number of UK coastguard stations - with Yarmouth's control centre set to be axed.

Currently there are 19 coastguard control centres, but as part of the government cutbacks announced by the Department for Transport, Shipping Minister Mike Penning has outlined new proposals, which will see just three 24-hour operational centres - at Aberdeen, in the Southampton/Portsmouth area and at Dover.

In addition, there will be five sub-centres open during daylight hours - at Swansea, at Falmouth in Cornwall, at Humber in Yorkshire and at either Belfast or Liverpool and at either Stornoway or Shetland in the Scottish islands.

Among coastguard stations that are set to be axed under the government plans are Bangor in Northern Ireland, Brixham in Devon, Holyhead in North Wales and Yarmouth in Norfolk.

The Yarmouth coastguard headquarters covers Lowestoft, and is responsible for providing search and rescue coverage from Haile Sand Fort in Lincolnshire to Southwold.

About 36 people are employed at their base at Havenbridge House on North Quay.

Making his announcement, Mr Penning said: 'The coastguard has a long and distinguished history. But in common with all public services it cannot stand still.

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'Our seas are becoming busier, with larger ships and increasing numbers of offshore renewable energy platforms making key areas of our seas more congested. There are also increasing numbers of people using our beaches, coastlines and seas for leisure activities.'

Launching a 14-week consultation period on the proposals, Mr Penning said the changes would 'strengthen the coastguard service by dealing with potential points of weakness in current structures and adding resilience throughout the system while also maintaining strong regional links and enhancing frontline rescue services through the volunteer coastguard'.