Labour MP Fights To Save Portland Helicopter

The campaign to save the Portland Search and Rescue helicopter has gained a high-profile supporter.

Commons Transport Committee chairman Louise Ellman has written to the Government expressing concerns about the ending the service,

She sais she was ''surprised and disappointed'' about the planned closures at Portland in Dorset.

In her letter to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, Mrs Ellman (Lab, Liverpool Riverside) said the closures ''may cost lives''.

She added that it was not too late to change the plans before the Government's new search-and-rescue (SAR) helicopter contract deal was signed.

Mrs Ellman wrote:

''People rightly expect that the Government will listen to their views and concerns, taking them into account before major decisions are reached.

''This has not happened with the planned closure of the helicopter bases at RAF Boulmer and Portland, despite compelling arguments that these closures may cost lives.

''It is not too late for the Government to consult and, if necessary, to change their proposals before the new contract is let.''

Mrs Ellman's committee is also seeking answers to a number of questions: the specification of the new SAR helicopter contract; the key user requirements taken into account when specifying the contract; the usage of the Portland helicopter; and modelling of the effect on response times of closing the Portland base.