Around 10,000 names are now behind the drive to save Shetland’s coastguard station from closure.
Campaigners in Shetland and Orkney are gathering together all the signatures made during the last three months on paper and online. The hope is to have all signatures by close of play tomorrow.
It comes ahead of a visit to the isles this week by shipping minister Mike Penning, following an invite from the SIC – although coastguard staff still do not know if Mr Penning intends to go to the Knab Road station.
Although the petitions are being gathered, protesters insist the campaign is still very much alive, especially given the extended consultation period.
Last week’s extension came after European trades unions representing seafarers wrote to the minister regarding the MCA’s plans.
A statement released today from Save Shetland Coastguard said: “Shetland and Orkney campaigners are collecting in their petition this week, and hope to have them all by Tuesday afternoon.
“We are asking anybody, shop or business, that have uncollected petitions to contact us by phone (01595) 692976 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We would also like to emphasise that this is not the end of the campaign. The transport select committee have announced they will be making a full inquiry into the MCA proposals to cut the coastguard service.
“In addition they will examine the decision to remove not only the emergency tugs (ETVs) on standby at the four corners of the UK but the offshore fire fighting response, too.
“Shetland Coastguard PCS Union feel that these measures will severely reduce the emergency and safety cover at sea.”
The MCA plans have created a huge uproar and sparked fears that lives could be put at risk due to the loss of local knowledge.
The agency says the service is ripe for modernisation, however. It insists having one full-time marine operation centre (MOC) in Aberdeen with a satellite daytime station in either Lerwick or Stornoway will not threaten safety at sea.