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Greg backs 24 hour RAF rescue helicopter coverage campaign

November 30, 2009 3:19 PM

Lib Dem parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East Greg Stone is backing Berwick Lib Dem MP Sir Alan Beith's campaign to maintain 24 hour RAF helicopter rescue coverage for the North East at RAF Boulmer in Northumberland.

There are concerns that the effective coverage and response time of the search and rescue function could be considerably reduced if MoD plans to reduce coverage to 12 hours a day rather than 24 are implemented.

Greg said "The recent floods in Cumbria and frequent mountain rescue call-outs show the importance of the RAF's rescue helicopters to people in the North, and the helicopters of 202 Squadron are also obviously invaluable for rescue operations in the North Sea.

"However, the Government's plans to reduce the service could mean that the North East and Cumbria would be reliant on "out of hours" service from a helicopter based at Lossiemouth in the far north of Scotland, significantly affecting the operational response time to emergencies in our area. In addition, a reduction in coverage may raise fears that the MoD is seeking to close the Boulmer base. I am supporting Sir Alan's campaign to maintain round the clock emergency cover for the North East".