Britain’s search-and-rescue helicopter bases face closure in six years’ time.
Tony Blair’s Labour government plans to privatise the service in 2012, with no guarantee that the current military and coastguard bases will continue to provide cover from the bases they now do.
The new service will be run under a private finance initiative (PFI) which have been so successful in building up massive profits for companies providing hospitals with overpriced new buildings and landing the health authorities and therefore the taxpayer (ie us!) with decades of debt.
The country’s volunteer mountain rescue teams often use helicopters crewed by the RAF, Navy and Coastguard to evacuate casualties from remote rescue sites.
The Mountaineering Committee of Scotland has a discussion forum at its website. Add your views and while you’re at it, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you think.
The Scottish National Party’s defence spokesman Angus Robertson MP, whose constituency covers the RAF’s Kinloss and Lossiemouth bases said: "These privatisation plans are worse than had been expected. The Ministry of Defence has failed to give assurances about the involvement of military aircrew in helicopter search and rescue.
"This plan has more to do with a cost-cutting agenda and off-balance-sheet accounting favoured by New Labour rather than the provision of life-line services.
"It is extraordinary that a Labour Government is privatising air and sea rescue which not even the Tories under Margaret Thatcher pursued.
"I will be pushing for the MoD to publish all details about the PFI contracts to answer the concerns of people throughout the country."