Belfast Telegraph

Bid to save Bangor coastguard unit

Campaigners for an under threat coastguard centre in Co Down have vowed to fight against its potential closure.

The base in Bangor at the mouth of Belfast Lough could be shut down under Government plans to streamline the service across the UK.

Shipping minister Mike Penning unveiled proposals that would see only three full-time coastguard stations operating in the UK - Aberdeen, Southampton and Dover.

Five sub-centres will open during the day. One of those will be based at either Belfast Lough or Liverpool.

Closing the centre would leave Northern Ireland without a locally-based coastguard service and that possibility has angered people in the area.

A public consultation exercise will be conducted before a final decision is taken.

North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon said it was vital a highly-trained and well-equipped coastguard presence was retained. The independent was commenting after raising her concerns with the Government.

"I made it abundantly clear that Northern Ireland must not be the only part of the United Kingdom left without a dedicated coastguard centre," she said. "That's the bottom line.

She said Government ministers should come to Bangor to see for themselves the work done by the Coastguard. "Their vital local knowledge simply cannot be replaced by others based, for example, in Liverpool," she said.

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