COASTGUARDS are to be thrown a lifeline with new plans to relocate them to the RNLI’s soon-to-be-vacated headquarters.
The Port Edgar coastguard team is housed in a rundown portable building but negotiations have now begun to move them to the RNLI Queensferry station at Hawes Pier.
A new state-of-the-art two-storey RNLI station should be completed at an adjacent site on the pier by the middle of next month.
The existing building, opened more than 20 years ago, had been scheduled for demolition once work on the new station was completed.
But it may now be spared as the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) have submitted an application to remove a condition from the planning consent requiring the demolition of the lifeboat building.
A spokesman for the MCA said: “We have entered into negotiations with Edinburgh City Council but as yet nothing definite has been agreed.
“However if successful, our coastguard team would move from their current location, which is not fit for purpose, and take up residence in the old RNLI headquarters whether that is for free, on a business rent or a lease is too early to say.”
Asked what a refusal from the council might mean for the service, the spokesman added: “This particular coastguard team would remain in South Queensferry. However, we would have to find a more suitable base which could lead to us having to build a new facility which would of course cost a lot of money.”
A council spokeswoman said: “A planning application has been submitted to retain the old boathouse which will be considered in due course.”
Last year the UK Government announced its decision to press ahead with the closure of the larger Forth coastguard station at Fifeness, though the Port Edgar team were not affected.
Critics warned this would leave a 300-mile coastline from Aberdeen to the Humber with no coastguard station, and therefore no local knowledge, in between.
The Forth base was among those which failed to win a reprieve when Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond revealed the Government was backing down on plans to close most of the UK’s stations.
The RNLI Queensferry lifeboat station was opened in 1967 at the Hawes Pier in a wooden building that had been the ticket office for the ferries which ran between north and south Queensferry.
The existing station was specially built and opened in 1989 and has been home to five lifeboats, with the latest named Jimmie Cairncross by The Duke of Edinburgh at a ceremony last year, replacing the Donald and Ethel Macrae, which had been on station since 1997.
Last year the station was declared the busiest in Scotland, launching 74 times and rescuing 138 people.
RNLI Queensferry Lifeboat operations manager Tom Robertson said: “We are highly delighted to be moving into thse new premises. The boathouse allows direct access down the pier which should save precious minutes when launching.”