Portland Coastguard Helicopter Will Be Scrapped

A campaign to save Portland's Search and Rescue helicopter has failed.

The Transport Secretary's reviewed her plans to scrap it in five years time but has decided to go ahead with it anyway.

Justine Greening has sent a letter to South Dorset MP Richard Drax, who's been leading the campaign - in it she said she was convinced that closing the Portland base wouldn't put lives at risk.

The nearest helicopter will be based at Lee-On-Solent on the Hampshire coast.

Last month, Mr. Drax met with Prime Minister David Cameron to try to persuade him to save the helicopter.

In part of the letter Justine Greening sent to the South Dorset MP, she said "I have examined the arguments in your report thoroughly and looked again at the national search and rescue framework at a strategic level. I appreciate the detail in which you have considered this matter; however I remain convinced that the closure of Portland will not increase the overall risk of loss of life in the UK search and rescue region. Modelling demonstrates that it is possible to meet the UK SAR requirements from as few as 8 bases."

She continued: "I understand that the southcoast is an area of significant maritime activity, but the concentration of Coastguard call outs in the region does not correlate with search and rescue helicopter activity. Over the last 3 years, Portland has responded to 8% of helicopter taskings within the UK search and rescue region - the same as Lee on Solent. With modern aircraft installed at 10 bases, the UK search and rescue region cells currently covered by Portland will benefit from lower maximum helicopter response times of approximately 38 minutes, down from 45 minutes at present."

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