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Cornwall's Search & Rescue Service Sold

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2:54pm 26th March 2013

Cornwall is told search and rescue operations will not suffer as the service is sold off.

American company Bristow will take over in 2015.

That means RNAS Culdrose will be stood down.

A new base will open at Newquay Airport in 2016 complete with a new fleet of helicopters.

Major Dave Fielder at Culdrose insists jobs are not at risk:

"771 squadron will cease operations in January 2016 and the staff will be re-deployed to other fleet air arm roles. Namely to HMS Queen Elizabeth, the new aircraft carrier, to the F35 lightening programme and also to the new Merlin Mark 2 anti-submarine helicopter."

The move will mean the ageing Sea King choppers that are currently in use will be replaced. Major Fielder added that  it is a positive step forward: "The Sea King over the last few years has served us loyally and well and a few tears will be shed when she departs. But we will retain our capability to do search and rescue on military operations on board our ships and we also look forward to a positive future for our fleet air arm."

The move to Newquay Airport will mean more expansion. Managing Director Al Titterington said: "A new 35,000 square foot hangar will be constructed on the north side of the airport to support the operations. The facility will compliment the overall development of the airport site. We've created new businesses in both operational support but also in other aerospace sectors which is a key element of the development of the Aerohub and of the Enterprise Zone."

"New jobs will be created at the airport, but importantly it ensures that SAR capability is retained in Cornwall, safeguarding this vital activity."

"It ensures Cornwall continues to support SAR operations in the South West. It also illustrates the importance of the airport to Cornwall, not just in supporting business and leisure passenger services, but it demonstrates how important Newquay is on a national infrastructure level. The new contract will also bring revenue to the airport which will ensure that the subsidy provided by the Council continues to reduce year on year as well as supporting job creation at Newquay and safeguarding jobs in Cornwall."

2:54pm 26th March 2013

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