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U.K. Lawmakers’ Panel Rejects ‘Flawed’ Marine Safety Shake-Up

U.K. government proposals to cut the number of coastguard centers while removing funding from emergency towing ships and marine firefighters were rejected by a cross-party panel of lawmakers.

The plans should be redrawn to protect the safety of ships and mariners and prevent pollution, the House of Commons Transport Committee said in a report today.

“We accept there is a need for some modernization, but the government’s proposals for the future of the Coastguard Service are seriously flawed,” the committee chairwoman, Louise Ellman, said in an e-mailed statement. “We found little support for the current proposals and we have no confidence that, under these proposals, the coastguard will in future be able to respond to emergencies at sea as well as they do now, let alone in a more effective way.”

The Department for Transport started a consultation in December 2010 on the proposed changes, which include closing 10 of the 18 Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres around the British coast, with all but three of the remaining eight working during daylight hours only.

The existing contract for three emergency tugs will not be renewed, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced in his October 2010 spending review. Funding for the Maritime Incident Response Group, which provides a national firefighting capability, is also under review.

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