Skip to main content

Cornwall Council talking tough on emergency tugs...

The council has sent a very strong message to government, they argue that the Maritime Incident Response Group (MIRG) should not be scrapped. The centerpiece of the Cornish MIRG is the West Cornwall based Emergency Tow Vessel (ETV). (I have blogged before on this subject e.g. is the government oblivious to maritime safety?)  Some choice phrases to Westminster from Cabinet Support Member for Community Safety and Public Protection Lance Kennedy included:

"This is a reckless decision which will have very serious consequences for both the safety and economy of coastal areas such as Cornwall."


To which I can only agree, also he goes on to say:

"I find the decision to discontinue the MIRG in favour of a system of assessment and advice using commercial salvers to be unbelievable."

(Both from Atlantic FM news)
Well done Lance Kennedy, it's a very strong statement to Westminster highlighting the strength of feeling over this vital service. This strong message was the first part of Lance's message the Tory councillor for Bodmin East, the second part was a reminder about the implications of Cornwall Fire and Rescue and ship fires/ incidents. At the moment the Cornish fire brigade in coordination with the Royal Navy 771 squadron and the Anglian Princess ETV stand ready to fight fires at sea.
The picture above is taken from the This is Cornwall newsite, it pictures the Athena, the fish factory ship that was on fire in the Channel last autumn. Brave Cornish firemen later suffered from smoke inhalation aboard the vessel, but the incident highlighted the coordinated response from the Royal Navy, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service and the Coastguard tug the Anglian Princess,(MCA press release). This is a prime example of the Maritime Incident Response Group in action, it shows the need for cooperation and the need for the tug here off the Cornish coast.

As Lance explains Cornwall's fire brigade relies upon the Anglian Princess to operate from

"Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service does not have a statutory responsibility to respond to fires and other emergency incidents on vessels at sea and, with the resources available to us, it is highly unlikely that we will be able to continue to support this area of work. The current system works by Fire and Rescue MIRG services across the country supporting each other. This decision will remove this support. "
Cornwall Fire and Rescue exercise aboard the Scillonian III


Effectively Lance is reflecting the reality that commercial tugs and salvers would have no obligation to work with the fire service either in training/ exercises or to respond to actual emergencies. As a side point the same arguments go for Search and Resuce helicopters when they are privatised. The future is very uncertain over maritime safety off our vital coast.


The Governments argument for abolishing the MIRG and the Anglian Princess, is mostly about cost and lack of use. In the same Atlantic FM story it is stated that the MIRG has only responded to 6 incidents since 2006.   There is some merit to the logic here, why pay everyday for a service you barely use every year? It's a question I ask myself everytime we renew the car insurance. We have never claimed on the insurance why are we paying this money? To which my wife invariably explains the concept of insurance and the simple fact we could not afford another car if ours was stolen or set fire to. 


It's about time someone explained this concept of insurance to the inland dwelling Transport Minister, what would the cost be if a ship ran aground off Cornwall and we had no assets to prevent this? What would the cost be (heaven forbid) if we had another incident like the Torrey Canyon and again we had no assets to deal with it? The cost argument holds no water, yes it's a lot of outlay for what statistically is an unlikely occurrence but it's such a gamble to go without this cover. 
Torrey Canyon


For me though the prime argument for keeping the MIRG and all it's components is about preservation of life. I am sure there are many people in Cornwall that have not known people lost at sea, it's tragic and it does happen. Thankfully over recent years this is less of a common occurance partly thanks to government assets such as the Royal Navy's 771 squadron, the Anglian Princess and of course the brave volunteers of the RNLI. For me, safety has to come first, I do not want to live in a society where a ship in trouble miles from shore has little hope of salvation because of government cuts. I do not want to live in a society where a ship is on fire and able and willing fire-fighters miles away are completely useless to help.


If you remain convinced that the commercial salvers would happily take over the role of the MIRG, consider this: 6 incidents since 2006 for an approximately £8 million a year outlay, there's no commercial case at all for this. There's no money in it. When the Anglian Princess is gone it is very unlikely that a commercial replacement will be seen around Cornish shores or the Western Approaches.

Popular posts from this blog

The 3 actions Penzance Town Centre needs from Cornwall Council

My name is Rob Simmons and I'm a candidate for Penzance East in this Thursdays Cornwall Council election and these are my 3 priorities for our town centre:  1 Action on reducing Parking Fees  2 Action on unfair business rates 3 Action on empty shops and buildings.  I firmly believe that Cornwall Council ought to do more to support Penzance Town Centre and these 3 changes would be a massive leap forward.

1.Action on Parking Fees, Penzance has some of the highest parking fees in Cornwall, we all know that it puts people off coming to town and crucially shoppers from staying for longer periods. With out of town retail parks popping up everywhere and the lure and convenience of the internet our town centre needs help. Cornwall Council must do it's part in supporting the town centre. Penzance needs a Cornwall Councillor that will lobby to change this and find a solution that benefits us and stops CC seeing Penzance as a way of making money. We need to see a major overhaul of parking…

A breath of fresh air at Penzance Town Council

The election has certainly rung a great many changes at Penzance Town Council. There are now 12 brand new councillors (although Simon Reed has been on the council before). Between retirements and not getting re-elected not a single mayor that served between 2013-2017 is now on the council and only 1 that served as deputy mayor in that time are still on the council. A number of former mayors, deputy mayors and chairs and vice chairs of committees are also no longer with the council. Or to put it another way many of the active town councillors that formed the approach and policies of the town council in the past are no longer there pulling the strings.

When I was first elected back in 2013 there was a feeling that (long overdue) change had been brought to the council, that those new people elected had brought change. That was the feeling with 8 new councillors elected and 12 of the existing councillors being re-elected. This time around there are 12 new councillors and only 8 from befo…

Some of my work for Penzance or why I'd be an effective Cornwall Councilor

This blog intends to illustrate some of my work for Penzance and to show the kind of issues I have supported and argued against, over the last few years. In this time of great political turmoil and with Brexit looming large on the horizon, it is more important than ever to have representatives that will stand up for issues, knows how to campaign effectively and gets things done. There are 2 sections below; 1 being an effective councillor and 2 standing up for local issues, these are the reasons why I think I am a very credible Cornwall Council candidate and why with a greater platform I could be more effective in making things happen. This is only a glimpse of my work for Penzance East, please read some of  my older posts for more and as always any questions or comments find me on twitter @cernyw or drop me an email robscornishblog@gmail.com.

Being an effective councillor:

I was elected onto Penzance Town Council back in 2013, when I also stood for Cornwall Council for Penzance East. I…