Rise for Scottish mountain rescue grant
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill announced today that the Scottish Government is increasing its annual grant funding to the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland (MRCofS).
Funding is rising from £300,000 to £312,000, to be distributed to their 27 affiliated Mountain Rescue Teams.
Scottish Mountain Rescue Teams assist the police with land-based search and rescue and its volunteers provide a vital public service to those who use Scotland's hills and mountains, saving hundreds of lives every year.
As well as making £312,000 available to help fund the work of Scottish Mountain Rescue during 2011-2012, the Scottish Government has also agreed to provide a one off grant of a further £12,000 towards communications equipment and will continue to provide £15,000 partnership funding towards a Project Manager post this year. Overall funding from the Scottish Government to the MRCofS in 2011/12 will therefore total £339,000.
Speaking during a visit to Ochils Mountain Rescue Centre, Mr MacAskill said:
"Mountain Rescue Team volunteers went out over 500 times last year to seek and rescue those in need of assistance - frequently in difficult mountainous terrain, poor weather conditions and often at night. I sincerely thank everyone associated with our Mountain Rescue Teams for providing an outstanding emergency service to the communities in our mountains, hills and rural areas.
"Scottish Mountain Rescue Teams represent the best traditions of community service and this extra funding will allow them to continue to deliver a first-class, front-line, voluntary service, free at the point of delivery, in the face of increasing demand and often in extremely challenging conditions."
Jonathan Hart, Chair of the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland, said:
"Scottish Mountain Rescue are very grateful for the Scottish Government's continued financial support, announced today, which together with the additional funding for communication equipment and a Project Manager post, will considerably enhance our voluntary mountain rescue service provided to those who may be in need of assistance.
"Scottish Mountain Rescue are proud to provide a world-class voluntary search and rescue service 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. The significant number of over 26,000 deployment hours in 2010 represents a huge commitment from our dedicated volunteers.
"I am deeply grateful to all of our emergency response partners throughout Scotland and to all Scottish Mountain Rescue Teams that continue to provide a vital voluntary public service to assist the police with land-based search and rescue."
Deputy Chief Constable Andy Cowie of Northern Constabulary, who is ACPOS' Mountain Rescue lead, said:
"On behalf of all of the Chief Police Officers in Scotland, we are delighted at the continued funding provided by the Scottish Government, which enables Scottish Mountain Rescue Teams to provide a world class service. There is no doubt that without the bravery and commitment of these volunteers, the police in Scotland would find it very difficult, if not impossible, to fill the gap that would be created.
"We enjoy a very strong working relationship with individual teams across Scotland and the MRCofS, and hope with this continued Government funding that this partnership will be as productive and rewarding for our communities, for many years to come."
The Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland is a Registered Scottish Charity and is the representative and liaison body for mountain rescue services in Scotland.
Scottish Mountain Rescue responded to 534 incidents in 2010 and committed 26,600 volunteer hours in responding to emergencies throughout Scotland. A total of 659 people were assisted of which 255 were injured and regrettably 45 died; of these, unfortunately 16 people died in mountaineering incidents, the lowest number for over 30 years. The number of non-mountaineering incidents rose to 194 compared to 172 in 2009; this 36 per cent annual rise is the highest ever reported.
The Scottish Government provides other investment to help Scots and visitors to Scotland safely enjoy our mountains. In 2010/2011 Scottish Government is providing funding of £155,300, through sportscotland, to the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, the governing body for mountaineering in Scotland. The Mountaineering Council of Scotland 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. This year the Scottish Government is also providing funding of £137,415 to the sportscotland Avalanche Information Service, based at Glenmore Lodge.