A campaign to save a picturesque harbour’s lifeboat station has won the backing of divers who fear it could put their lives at risk.
More than 4,200 people have already backed a petition to save the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) service operated from St Abbs in Berwickshire from being moved four miles away to Eyemouth.
Now the Scottish Sub-Aqua Club (SCOTSAC)’s 1,300 members have been urged to support the fight. Chairman Edna Ewan warned it would mean a loss of local knowledge meaning it would take longer to respond to incidents in waters popular with divers.
Ms Ewan has written to RNLI chief executive Paul Bossier outlining her concern. There is also concern the charity’s review, which prompted the decision to close the station, was carried out without local consultation.
The organisation’s national diving officer Gordon Young said: “We received messages on our own Facebook from members asking if the club, as the national governing body for scuba diving in Scotland, had written to the RNLI chief executive requesting an overturn on his decision.
“Before that point we had wanted to keep out of it but then our board of directors began communicating with each other saying that it was wrong to take that stance and that we should speak up because we have 1,300 members in Scotland who dive down at St Abbs, which is without a doubt the busiest diving area in Britain.
“There have been lots of incidents there where the crew at St Abbs have been called out and without them there could have been lives lost.”
The campaign’s supporters included the broadcaster Monty Halls, The National Trust for Scotland, South Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse and Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP Calum Kerr.
The lifeboat crew thanked SCOTSAC for their support.
Crew committee member Euan Gibson said: “The RNLI has an opportunity here to change their minds.
“It is not a case of saving face, there is a chance here for them to reverse this decision and come up smelling of roses because they are getting a fair amount of heat.”
An RNLI spokesman said: “Research conducted by the British Sub-Aqua Club indicates that 70 per cent of diving incidents are potentially avoidable.
“The RNLI already educates sea users in order to prevent accidents and drownings through our community lifesaving teams who use comprehensive action plans to tackle specific issues in specific areas.
“We will continue this work in St Abbs, alongside the community, to provide a service that helps divers stay safe.”
“The process involved in the decision to close an RNLI station is a long, comprehensive and carefully considered one.”