Coastguard response times could quadruple under new plans

It could take coastguard search and rescue teams up to four times longer to launch from Sumburgh under controversial new proposals from Bristow’s.

Coastguard teams will have 60 minutes to launch at Sumburgh after a call is made from October 2026, if the plans are approved.

Currently they have only 15 minutes through the day, and 45 minutes at night.

MP Alistair Carmichael slammed the proposals as putting people’s lives at risk.

“This is worrying news both in the substance and in the way that it is being handled.  

“A change of this sort is bound to put lives at risk.  

“How many lives are the government prepared to risk in order to make a financial saving?”

A letter about the proposals, sent to The Shetland Times anonymously, said there were concerns that Shetlanders lives would be lost if the move was approved.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) told The Shetland Times this week the state of readiness at Sumburgh would continue for the next three years.

“Discussions relating to readiness states beyond this date are ongoing,” the MCA said.

It said it could not comment further due to contractual discussions.


Add Your Comment
  • Mark Lansbury

    • October 6th, 2023 12:45

    Is this a UK wide cut in lifesaving services or cuts directed only at Shetland and Orkney?

  • Sylvia Halcrow

    • October 6th, 2023 13:16

    Speaking as someone who was at the mercy of the helicopter last year, had it not been for their prompt action, I would not be here writing this. They do a sterling job in difficult circumstances. I implore you to leave it as it is – surely there is a better place to make savings


Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.