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UK's rescue coordination centre to be relocated to England in 2016

STV News previously revealed plans to shut the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre in Moray.

Stornoway Coastguard rescue helicopter Sikorsky S-92 close #rescuegeneric
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The UK’s only search and rescue coordination centre will be relocated to England next year.

In December, STV News revealed plans to shut the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) in Moray and move it to Hampshire. The MoD has now confirmed the move to Fareham is expected to be completed by March 31, 2016.

Twenty-seven military personnel and ten civilian staff will be affected by the move. The ARCC has coordinated rescue operations from Kinloss Barracks, formerly RAF Kinloss, since 1997.

An MoD spokesman said: “The ARCC based at Kinloss Barracks will transfer from the MoD to Department for Transport in a phased approach to be completed no later than March 31, 2016.

“It has also been agreed that the ARCC function will relocate from Kinloss to the National Maritime Operations Centre (NMOC) at Fareham in a phased transition under the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

“Co-locating the aeronautical and maritime rescue coordination functions at the NMOC will result in a better service for those in distress. This concept is successfully employed by various other nations globally.

“Co-location will also deliver better value for money across wider government.

“Service personnel have been or will be assigned to new duties at RAF Stations across the UK or leave. Work is ongoing to clarify whether the ten MoD civil service posts will transfer to the NMOC at Fareham.”

But Moray MP and SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson said the decision "does not stand up to scrutiny".

Mr Robertson said: "When the closure of the ARCC at Kinloss and transfer of its operations to Fareham was announced I condemned it as disproportionate.

“The loss of these highly skilled personnel from Moray just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The Kinloss ARCC performs a critical lifesaving role in co-ordinating rescues and there seems little rhyme or reason for the move to Fareham and no reasonable explanation of why it shouldn’t remain at Kinloss.

“UK politicians have constantly pointed to the benefits of defence jobs to Scotland’s economy, yet they continue to cut one defence facility after another taking thousands of jobs out of Moray and the rest of Scotland. It is just wrong.”

The proposal was originally put forward by the Department for Transport in 2011.

A spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: "The relocation of the ARCC to Fareham will combine the aeronautical and maritime rescue coordination functions resulting in a better service for those in distress. The new UK search and rescue service will use faster, brand new helicopters, cutting average response times and providing a more reliable overall service."

The Kinloss ARCC receives more than 3600 requests for assistance, deploys assets over 2600 times and assists more than 2100 people each year.

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