MP meets minister over RAF plans

SIR Alan Beith is to question controversial plans to axe search and rescue cover from RAF Boulmer.

He is to meet MP Mike Penning, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, next Thursday to see why the Government has asked contractors to submit proposals which would see search and rescue cover at the base come to an end by 2016.

Sir Alan said: “Laying down strict criteria for bids seems premature when we do not know what sort of helicopter will be used. The speed and distance a helicopter can travel on one load of fuel will have an important bearing on where bases should be, and which ones should continue to be used for search and rescue.”

He said that he was ‘very concerned’ that removing the service from RAF Boulmer would lead to a lack of cover for the area and he wants evidence that the new proposals will give the same level of cover which is presently provided.

He added: “There is no threat to the future of RAF Boulmer, because of the other operations which are carried out there, but the yellow Sea King is a familiar sight in our skies and I want to make sure we will still have a good rescue service for those in danger on our seas and in the hills.”

The new contract proposes that the area currently covered by RAF Boulmer’s search and rescue service will be looked after by services from Prestwick and, RAF Lossiemouth, in Scotland and RAF Leconfield, near Hull.