DoT climbdown on cutbacks to south east SAR service
The Department of Transport has reversed its decision to downgrade the south east search and rescue helicopter cover to 12 hour daylight only operations. Under the terms of the new contract with CHC Helicopters to provide SAR services for the Irish Coatguard, coverage by the Waterford based helicopter was to be reduced to 12 hour daylight only operation in an effort to save €1m per year. Coverage at Shannon, Sligo and Dublin would have remained at 24hr. Yesterday, Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey confirmed that coverage from Waterford would continue on a 24 hr basis up to 2022.
Yesterday's announcemnet is a rare climbdown by the DoT since the original decision to scale back the service was approved at cabinet. The announcement two weeks ago that the service was to be curtailed resulted in a vociferous local reaction and indeed a meeting scheduled to be held tonight in Waterford City to discuss the matter had been expected to gather a crowd of 1,000 opponents of the plan.