My statement of 16 December 2010 announced the commencement of a consultation on proposals for the modernisation of the coastguard service, concluding on 24 March 2011. These proposals cover both the reorganisation of the rescue co-ordination work undertaken by regular coastguard officers and specifically includes an investment of resources to strengthen the support given to the volunteers in the Coastguard Rescue Service who serve their local communities by providing an effective, knowledgeable and responsive local rescue service.
An extensive programme of public engagement meetings organised by the coastguard will be completed by 16 March 2011. I have been very grateful for the contributions of all of those who have attended these meetings. However, to give all interested parties more time to further develop their thoughts and submissions, including alternative proposals, I have decided to extend the period for submission of written responses by a further 6 weeks to 5 May 2011.
The Transport Select Committee has also announced its intention to hold an inquiry into the modernisation proposals. Provided the Transport Select Committee is able to produce its report in a timely manner, I would expect to allow a further short period for consultation following publication of that report.