The RNLI has announced today (8 November) that the 2021 review of the Cardigan Bay coastline concluded that an all-weather lifeboat will be stationed between Fishguard and Barmouth, with the most suitable location identified as New Quay.
A 25 knot Shannon class lifeboat will replace the ageing 17 knot Mersey class lifeboat.
In 2016, a review of Cardigan Bay recommended an inshore Atlantic 85 lifeboat would replace New Quay’s current Mersey class all-weather lifeboat (ALB). However, after a lengthy consultation process and a fresh review of requirements in Cardigan Bay, it was determined that an ALB was required to deliver the most effective search and rescue service in the area. This will complement Barmouth and Pwllheli’s Shannon class lifeboats and Fishguard’s Trent class all-weather lifeboat.
The RNLI say they are constantly reviewing their assets to ensure that the right assets are in the right place to deliver the most effective service. These reviews take into account factors such as the changing trends in water use, local environmental change, search and rescue demand, the improving capabilities of modern lifeboats, and evolving technologies. It was decided the Cardigan Bay coastline should be reviewed in a consultation process which brought to light new intelligence and considered multiple stakeholder submissions which were scrutinised alongside the original data.
This summer the RNLI embarked on a month-long consultation, engaging with groups and individuals with an interest in the future of lifesaving provision in Cardigan Bay. Members of the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign, who worked closely with the RNLI to highlight issues and concerns, were a fundamental part of this engagement activity. Multiple submissions referred to the excellence of the Atlantic class lifeboat but also highlighted the changes in inshore and offshore water usage and potential government investment.
The RNLI say they are extremely grateful to all who took the time to contribute to this consultation.
The consultation also brought to light several potential changes and investments in the area which are likely to see an increased demand for an all-weather lifeboat. The changes include a 30% increase in aircraft operations due to a £1.3billion investment to one of the largest military live fire and exploratory technology range areas. In addition, the day trip passenger fleet is likely to expand, and government investments are planned to reinvigorate the local fishing industry.
The Chancellor has also announced £10.8m for the plans in Ceredigion to develop the harbours, to be brought forward in the next financial year. Future investments in marinas and the coastal infrastructure will lead to a significant increase in visitors to the Cardigan Bay coastline.
All these factors were considered by the RNLI Executive Team and the Trustees. Their conclusion was that these additional factors when considered warranted support to the Lifesaving Operations Director’s recommendation and decision.
John Payne, Director of Lifesaving Operations for the RNLI says: “I would like to thank all those who have supported the RNLI and openly consulted with us as well as all of the volunteers and staff who have continued to operate the lifesaving service from New Quay during this period of consultation and since 2016.
“The decision about the most appropriate type of lifeboat for the New Quay area was a marginal one. An Atlantic 85 would bring greater speed and agility, getting to casualties faster. However, given the levels of investment into the coastal communities, the longer-term plans for opening up fishing grounds (resulting in increased fishing activity) in addition to marine tourist activity from New Quay harbour itself, it is my professional opinion that an all-weather lifeboat is the better class of lifeboat for this area and the wider Cardigan Bay. This decision has been recommended to the Executive Team and supported by the RNLI Trustees at the recent board meeting held on the 3 November.
“We realise this has been a challenging time for all at New Quay who have done a sterling job of continuing to save lives at sea whilst faced with uncertainty about the future. Thanks to everyone who took the time to contribute to the consultation, allowing us to take a much more holistic view of the lifesaving effect in Cardigan Bay and the numerous factors that influence that.
“Through an open and transparent consultation process, it became clear that an all-weather lifeboat is required in Cardigan Bay due not only to external factors but to the role New Quay lifeboat plays in providing all-weather support to the whole of Cardigan Bay in its entirety.’
Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager says: “I could not feel prouder of the way the crew have continued to save lives during this period of uncertainty. It has been a difficult time for us all, but I have been heartened to see the RNLI working alongside our community to make this complex decision which I believe is the right one for the future of New Quay RNLI. The RNLI has listened attentively to the people who live and work in our community and I have nothing but praise for this new process.”
Richard Taylor, Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign Chair welcomed the news: “CLC have worked alongside the RNLI to highlight a multitude of factors, which we firmly believe indicated an all-weather lifeboat was the best possible option for New Quay. The support we’ve had from the community has been tremendous and we’d like to thank everyone for their unwavering support throughout this process. The consultation enabled us to work together and gave us a voice to share our findings. The RNLI have listened to the many valid and important reasons why an all-weather lifeboat is required. This is a really fantastic day for the RNLI in Ceredigion.”
(Lead image: RNLI/Danielle Rush)
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