Transport secretary stands by decision

Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for Transport, has confirmed in a letter to South Dorset MP Richard Drax that Portland’s search and rescue helicopter facility will cease when the service is privatised in 2017.

Mr Drax led a vigorous campaign to save the facility, but despite recent delegations to the Prime Minister and Ms Greening herself, the base looks set for the axe.

Ms Greening was unswayed by the campaigners’ objections, her letter stating that the closure ‘would not increase the risk of loss of life’. The government’s stance is that its newer and faster fleet of helicopters will be able to do a more efficient job from the planned ten remaining bases.

After Portland’s closure – with a consequent direct loss of around 20 jobs – relevant emergencies will most likely be dealt with by the nearest SAR helicopter at Hampshire’s Lee-on-Solent, nearly sixty miles east of the South Dorset peninsula base.

Photo: RNLI/P. Elleray

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