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Additional funding for mountain rescue teams

Published: 16 Mar 2016 09:30
Part of:
Law and order

Radio reprogramming will protect vital communication channels.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has announced an additional £24,000 to fund 'radio reprogramming' for Scottish Mountain Rescue.

Mr Matheson made the announcement following a meeting with the organisations new Chair, Damon Powell from Oban MRT, and Deputy Chair, Kevin Mitchell from Ochils MRT, who were elected by fellow volunteers at an SMR meeting in February.

He also praised the hard work being done by the volunteer teams across the country dedicated to keeping Scotland safe all year round.

Mr Matheson said: "Recent events on the mountains have demonstrated clearly that mountain rescue team volunteers provide a vital public service, assisting in difficult searches and rescues, maximising survival chances and saving many lives every year.

"Rescue teams provide an outstanding service to communities and those venturing into Scotland's mountains, hills and rural areas. That's why I'm delighted to award an additional £24,000 to Scottish Mountain Rescue to begin the logistically difficult, but necessary process of future-proofing all of their VHF radios which allow vital communication between team members in remote areas as well as with helicopter support teams.

"Since the turn of the year we have seen some very difficult mountain conditions in Scotland. I want to take this opportunity to remind anyone considering walking, climbing or taking part in any other activities in the mountains to take extra care."

Damon Powell, Chair of Scottish Mountain Rescue, said:

"Scottish Mountain Rescue Teams are very grateful for the Scottish Government's additional financial support, announced today, which will enable teams to continue the voluntary life-saving mountain rescue service provided to those who may be in need of its assistance in Scotland's hills and remote places.

"Scottish Mountain Rescue Teams are proud to provide a world-class voluntary search and rescue service 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, free at the point of delivery. I am deeply grateful to all of the teams and other partner responders who continue to provide a vital public service for Scotland's local communities."

Latest figures show that in 2014 Scottish Mountain Rescue assisted 608 people over a total of 552 incidents, committing nearly 22,000 man hours to assisting those in need.

Since 2004, the Scottish Government has provided at least £300,000 every year in grant funding, to Scottish Mountain Rescue - amounting to more than £3.5 million – and in 2012 increased the grant to a record £312,000, despite budgetary constraints. Funding at the higher level will continue in 2016/17. The Scottish Government is the only government in the UK that provides regular, annual grant funding to support the work of volunteer mountain rescue teams.

Notes to editors

Background

The £24,000 announced for 'radio reprogramming' is in addition to the £312,000 annual grant funding that the Scottish Government already provided to Scottish mountain rescue teams earlier this financial year.

The Scottish Government provides annual funding of around £179,000 to the Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) which publishes daily forecasts of the avalanche, snow and mountain conditions at the five most popular areas of Scotland during the season.

The Scottish Government also provided annual funding of £140,300 through sportscotland as part of its £285,300 investment for the period 2015-16 to the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS). The MCofS provides a range of services supporting those in the mountains, including Mountain Leader Training Scotland, the Mountain Weather Information Service and a Mountain Safety Advisor.

Contact: Jenny Scott 0131 244 2939