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Drax Group
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28 января, 19:00

Energy sector faces struggle to find the female engineers of the future

The woman in charge of UK’s largest power station admits they must do more to change attitudesWhile the lack of female chief executives in the UK is a problem, the lack of female engineers is an even bigger concern, as Dorothy Thompson, chief executive of Drax group, knows only too well. The head of the UK’s largest power station is grappling with the question of how to attract more women into the energy sector.Thompson says the six places available on the Drax apprenticeship scheme this year attracted just two female applicants compared with 76 men. The education is partly to blame, she says, but energy companies also need to do much more to change girls’ perceptions. Continue reading...

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06 декабря 2016, 22:03

Компания Drax приобретет Opus Energy за $433,64 млн

Британская энергетическая компания Drax Group заявила, что приобретет другого представителя отрасли Opus Energy Group за 340 млн фунтов стерлингов ($433,64 млн). Ожидается, что сделка будет завершена в первом квартале 2017 г. Компания также отметила, что EBITDA за текущий год, согласно ее ожиданиям, окажется у нижнего порога рыночного прогнозного диапазона. Стоит отметить, что Drax представит отчет по финансовым результатам за 2016 г. 16 февраля 2017 г.

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06 декабря 2016, 12:06

Компания Drax приобретет Opus Energy за $433,64 млн

Британская энергетическая компания Drax Group заявила, что приобретет другого представителя отрасли Opus Energy Group за 340 млн фунтов стерлингов ($433,64 млн). Ожидается, что сделка будет завершена в первом квартале 2017 г. Компания также отметила, что EBITDA за текущий год, согласно ее ожиданиям, окажется у нижнего порога рыночного прогнозного диапазона. Стоит отметить, что Drax представит отчет по финансовым результатам за 2016 г. 16 февраля 2017 г.

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25 сентября 2015, 19:18

UK energy firm Drax pulls out of carbon-capture project

British power company Drax Group PLC says it is abandoning a project to capture and store carbon from a coal-fueled power plant, a major setback for the technology in Britain.

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09 июля 2013, 19:20

Capture Power Ltd says it is sole bidder for EU CCS cash

LONDON, July 9 (Reuters) - Capture Power Ltd, formed by Alstom SA, Drax Group Plc and BOC Group , is the sole bidder for funding for a carbon capture and storage (CCS) project under a European Commission scheme, it said on Tuesday.

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01 мая 2013, 13:00

Weir Group chairman sets resignation plan

Lord Smith to be replaced by Drax Group chairman Charles Berry at the end of the year as group works through sluggish start for oil and gas unit

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24 апреля 2013, 04:00

Drax Biomass backed by UK Guarantee

Today, Drax Group Plc has announced that private funding for the conversion of their coal-fired power station to biomass will be the first to be underpinned by a UK Guarantee.

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27 марта 2013, 01:09

UK search and rescue sell-off hits turbulence

Minister says Bristow will deliver first-class service but critics air doubts about US company's takeover from RAF and navyThe transfer of the UK's search and rescue service from the military to a Texas-based helicopter company has been criticised by residents of coastal communities, politicians from all the main parties and rescue experts.From 2016 Bristow Helicopters, part of the global Bristow Group, will take over the helicopter search and rescue (SAR) service from the RAF and navy.As part of the £1.6bn 10-year contract, Bristow will operate helicopters from 10 bases around the country with the Department for Transport (DfT) arguing the company's modern aircraft will be faster and more efficient than the Sea Kings that are currently used.But though many military pilots and crew-members are expected to sign up for the Bristow service, there are fears that the ethos of a privatised operation is bound to be different to the much-admired one largely run by the RAF and navy for 70 years.There have also been concerns that the new helicopters would lack the capacity of the Sea Kings. Bristow confirmed yesterday that one of the two types of helicopters it will use will carry fewer casualties.Another hugely controversial aspect is that Bristow will move operations from military bases such as Culdrose in Cornwall and Valley in Anglesey, where Prince William is based as a SAR pilot, to commercial airports.Confirmation that two bases – at Portland in Dorset and Boulmer in Northumberland – will be cut has also caused anger. The government has said it needs to privatise SAR because the Sea Kings are reaching the end of their working lives and the military needs to focus on frontline duties.The transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, paid tribute to the RAF and navy. "The service they have provided has been exemplary and the country owes them all an enormous debt of gratitude." But he said Bristow would be able to deliver a "first-class service" with its "state of the art" helicopters.The DfT insisted the new service would be better: "There will be an overall improvement in flying times to incidents of around 20% (from 23 to 19 minutes)."At present, a helicopter can reach about 70% of high-risk areas in the UK search and rescue region within 30 minutes. This would rise to 85% under the new contract. Ten Sikorsky S92s and 10 AgustaWestland AW189s will operate, two per site, at bases around the country. Bristow said 350 new jobs would be created. The contract is also good news for AgustaWestland, which will build half the new fleet in Somerset, and for Newquay airport, where the Cornish service will be based.Bristow said it would be able to provide a "world-class" service. A spokesman confirmed the AW189s have less room for casualties than the Sea Kings. But Bristow said the new machines were faster.What will be tested is whether the ethos will change. Mike Margeson, vice-chairman of Mountain Rescue England and Wales and a team leader at Duddon and Furness in the Lake District, said he was "a little cautious and apprehensive" that the service would be as good. "We tremendously value our relationship with the navy and the RAF. We realise the Sea King fleet is ageing and welcome the investment in new aircraft. We just hope we will have the same service."Richard Drax, Tory MP for South Dorset and a former army officer, accepted Bristow has an "extremely good reputation" but said it was a shame that military expertise would be lost. Closure of the Portland base, which covers one of the busiest shipping and leisure sailing areas in the world, was a "body blow."Bristow Helicopters was founded in the UK by Alan Bristow, a test pilot, war hero and entrepreneur. In 1996 the US company Offshore Logistics bought 50% of the company and later adopted its name.The Bristow group, headquartered in Houston, provides helicopter services across the world. Since 1971 Bristow Helicopters has run civilian search and rescue services in the UK, mainly on behalf of HM Coastguard. Mike Imlach, Bristow Helicopters managing director, indicated that the company would hire service personnel: "The existing expertise and local SAR knowledge is immensely valuable and we will ensure that this is not lost."The Ministry of Defence said personnel who did not wish to leave would be redeployed.PrivatisationMilitaryEconomic policySteven Morrisguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

26 марта 2013, 16:30

Search and rescue contract loss angers UK coastal residents

Concern and disappointment after government announces that Texas-based search and rescue firm will replace RAF and navyThe rescue at the weekend was typically swift and professional. An angler had been swept off the rocks at Trewarvas Point near Helston in Cornwall and, without help, would have been dead within minutes in the surging sea.Rescue 193 helicopter launched from the naval air station at Culdrose and took seconds to spot the man, winch him up and whisk him to the Royal Cornwall hospital."That was typical," said Helston councillor Judith Haycock. "That man would not have had a chance if he had been in the sea for any longer at this time of year. We're proud of the navy's search and rescue service here. Would that man have survived if the helicopter had been based further away? It's a dangerous coast along there."The sight of the red and grey navy Sea Kings clattering out of RNAS Culdrose in Helston is beloved of local people and holidaymakers.There was concern and sadness in the town as the government announced not only the name of the private company that will take over search and rescue (SAR) from the navy and the RAF, but also that the Cornish operation will be moved to Newquay airport.Andrew George, the West Cornwall MP, said he was "very disappointed". He expressed concern that the UK's often wild western approaches would not be as accessible to the new privatised operation and was unhappy that there would be no military influence on the new service.Not surprisingly there was no word from the most famous SAR pilot, Prince William, who is based at RAF Valley on Anglesey in north Wales.The MP for the island, Albert Owen, however, was angry both that there would no longer be military involvement and because the new service would fly not from Valley but from the civilian airport at Caernarfon on the mainland.Owen claimed the move was "purely down to cost" and said it meant that state-of-the-art facilities at Valley would no longer be used for SAR operations. "It's like moving Manchester United from Old Trafford to Accrington Stanley," he said. "All that infrastructure, personnel, capability is being lost."And, as at Culdrose, it meant that a hugely respected military service that local people had great pride in would be lost. "This is a privatisation too far. It is a bad day for search and rescue," said Owen.On the south coast there was anger that the base at Portland in Dorset, currently a civilian service run by the coastguard, was being axed under the plans. Ian Mew, the clinical director for major trauma at Dorset county hospital, said: "It's a great shame. I do feel that lives will be lost because of this."Roger Macpherson, a spokesman for the Save Our Helicopter campaign group in Portland, said he was upset a base was being lost that served one of the busiest shipping lanes and leisure sailing areas in the world. "They just didn't listen to our concerns," he added.Richard Drax, the MP for South Dorset and a former army officer, said: "I simply can't understand the thinking behind the closure of Portland." And though he accepted Bristow has an "extremely good reputation" it was a shame that military expertise would be lost.A key element of the new service is bound to be how it works with organisations including the RNLI and mountain rescue teams.Mike Margeson, vice chairman of Mountain Rescue England and Wales and a team leader at Duddon and Furness in the Lake District, said it was "a little cautious and apprehensive" that the new service would be as good as the largely military one.In Scotland SAR operations at RAF Lossiemouth will cease and instead the new service will operate out of Inverness airport.Jonathan Hart, chairman of the Mountain Rescue Council of Scotland, the umbrella body for the country's 27 volunteer, dog, police and RAF rescue teams, said the appointment of Bristow was "very welcome", arguing the new helicopters would be more agile, faster and more capable than the MoD's fleet of ageing Sea Kings.Unlike Sea Kings, the new helicopters would be able to fly higher, taking them over mountain ranges, because they had modern de-icing equipment.Siting one of the Bristow bases at Inverness airport would also be far better for many mountain rescue teams in the north and Highlands, he said. "Introducing new, modern airframes is good news for everybody, whether your mountaineering or whether you're involved in a road traffic collision," Hart added."They can get you to hospital faster, they can fly over mountains rather than round them because of the de-icing equipment."Individual mountain rescue teams remain very nervous about how Bristow's service will respond to very difficult weather conditions, or complicated and lengthy rescues.Staff fear the privatised service will mean the company will be much more reluctant than RAF and Royal Navy aircrews to agree to particularly costly or risky rescues because of the threat to their profits: military aircrew are trained and keen to undertake dangerous missions.Willie Anderson, chairman of Cairngorms mountain rescue team, one of the UK's busiest, said it was unclear how many casualties and rescuers the new helicopters could carry.But the Scottish National party was angry at the move. The Westminster SNP leader and defence spokesman, Angus Robertson, MP said: "The privatisation of military helicopter search and rescue services is misguided. It will end the role of military aircrew from these life-saving flights, which is a bad move."MilitarySteven MorrisSeverin Carrellguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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19 февраля 2013, 21:30

Coastguard chief 'gagged' over search and rescue privatisation

South Dorset MP Richard Drax complains of government ban on coastguard agency head Sir Alan Massey discussing schemeThe government has been accused of gagging the chief executive of the coastguard agency over the privatisation of the search-and-rescue helicopter service.A Tory MP on Tuesday claimed ministers were acting in an "almost Orwellian" way by banning the head of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Sir Alan Massey, from discussing the scheme with him.Richard Drax, MP for South Dorset, has been trying to speak to Massey about the privatisation project under which the largely military operation would become entirely civilian – and close the helicopter base at Portland in his constituency.But he received an email in which Massey said he had been told by the government not to talk about the matter.It said: "I fully understand your wish to speak with me about an issue that I know causes you great concern."[The] minister has, however, determined that he does not wish me, as an official, to re-engage on a matter on which the government (and he personally) has made its position clear."Massey, a navy vice-admiral who commanded warships including Ark Royal, said the coastguard agency had not been involved in decisions relating to the search-and-rescue service but had provided "operational and technical advice".Drax, a former army officer, has written to the transport minister, Stephen Hammond, asking him if he had banned agency officials from speaking to him.He said: "I find it quite extraordinary that an MP should be prevented from speaking to anyone on behalf of his constituents. It really is almost Orwellian and totally out of character with Conservative policy and principles."Drax felt he and his constituents were being treated with "disdain" by the government and he believed it was crucial he spoke to Massey before the "disastrous decision" to shut Portland came into effect.This spring the government will announce the name of the private contractor or contractors that will be charged with providing search-and-rescue capability – helicopters and staff – for 10 years from 2016.Search-and-rescue experts, doctors, workers in the maritime industry, and people who have been rescued fear a civilian service will not be as effective as the one now provided mainly by RAF and Royal Navy pilots, crew and ground staff.There are also worries that plans to cut two of the 12 search-and-rescue bases, including Portland, dotted around Britain's coastline will leave some areas exposed, particularly in the Channel. The government claims faster, better helicopters will provide an improved service.Drax has said he had been told by workers within the service that the closure of Portland, which covers one of the busiest shipping and marine leisure areas of the world, would lead to more lives being lost. The Portland base is one of four run by the agency while the navy and RAF operate the other eight.In his letter to Hammond, Drax says: "When someone dies off our coast because a helicopter did not reach them in time, I'm afraid this government will be held responsible."Louise Ellman, the chair of the Commons transport select committee, said: "I'm concerned about this issue and I hope the minister can reconsider Richard's request."Roger Macpherson, a spokesman for the Save Our Helicopter campaign group in Portland, said: "Richard Drax is the elected MP for South Dorset and as such, has the right to question decisions that affect his constituents. I find this gagging order a disturbing tactic in what I have always believed to be a country that leads the world in democracy."A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency confirmed Massy had received a request from Drax and had replied to it but referred any further questions to the transport department.The DfT said: "The minister's view was that in light of numerous exchanges at ministerial level on this issue, including meetings with the previous secretary of state and the prime minister, there was no further ground to cover. The closure of the Portland base is something the government has made its position clear on and Mr Hammond met Mr Drax in early December to discuss these issues in depth. A further engagement with the MCA was therefore deemed to be unnecessary at this stage."PrivatisationTransport policyEconomic policyTransportConservativesRoyal NavyWater transportEmergency servicesSteven Morrisguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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31 января 2013, 20:58

Privatisation of UK's search-and-rescue helicopters raises safety and job fears

RAF, navy and coastguard's search and rescue operations will be privatised under Department for Transport's £3bn contractWith a smile and a thumbs-up, Warrant Officer aircrewman Ian "Zippy" Thompson spins out of a Sea King helicopter hovering high above a cargo ship that is lurching in the choppy seas off Lizard, mainland Britain's most southerly point.The winchman avoids a whipping aerial and lands with a bit of a thump on the stern of the vessel (his colleagues later tease him that he left a dent in it). This is a practice rather than a real "shout", and after a meet and greet with the crew, Thompson is hauled back up, his grin as wide as that of the children's television favourite he is nicknamed after.A wave to the cargo ship and the helicopter banks away to find an even trickier spot off the Cornish coast for Zippy to winch down to. Is it scary? "It can be but it's fun," says Thompson. Why do it? "Simple: job satisfaction."The Royal Navy is celebrating its 60th year of search and rescue operations in the UK (the RAF marked its 70th anniversary last year). Both services have fantastic histories and are packed with great characters. But the days of their distinctive, and much loved, grey and navy helicopters, and the yellow RAF ones, are numbered.This spring the Department for Transport is due to award a 10-year £3bn contract to a private company or companies to run SAR services in the UK.There is sadness in the Navy and RAF that from 2016 a service they are hugely proud of will go private. Among other groups involved in search and rescue there are concerns that a commercial operation will be different to the tried and tested military one, and that fundamental changes are being rushed through without consultation.While Thompson and the crew had a debrief at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, Lieutenant Commander Stu Cantellow led the way to a hangar where mechanics were working on some of 771 Squadron's eight Sea Kings. These machines are one of the main reasons the government gives for privatising the service.The Sea Kings came into service in the early 70s and are due to be retired in March 2016. Cantellow said it was increasingly difficult to keep them in operation; for every hour in the air they need 30 hours of maintenance, and spares, particularly for the tail rotors, are harder to come by. To extend the life of the 18 Sea Kings in the eight military search and rescue bases for two years would cost £300m.Commander Graham "Sharky" Finn, national head of Royal Navy search and rescue, said the Sea Kings came into service in the year he was born. "I've been told I'm an old fart so that must make the aircraft an old fart," he said.The government also says, following its experiences in Afghanistan, that the Ministry of Defence no longer believes it gains "operational advantage" from military personnel doing search and rescue work in the UK. "The reality is the military moves on," said Finn. "We're in a period of redefining the military, not just through defence cuts but redefining what it is we are delivering."Finn said the service had provided great publicity for the armed services. "It's a bit like seeing guardsmen in London or the Red Arrows," he said. "In the past it's been very good PR for the Royal Navy and the RAF."It certainly has been. The military search and rescue teams respond to about 2,000 callouts a year. Last year Culdrose was scrambled 249 times and helped rescue 235 people. Shouts included the disastrous Fastnet yacht race of 1979 when 21 people died but more than 100 were rescued, and the Boscastle floods in 2004 when about 150 people were saved.Tales abound of lesser-known acts of bravery, such as that of Chief Petty Officer Dave Rigg who, after being winched down on to a Spanish ship 150 nautical miles off Land's End, stemmed the blood gushing out of a sailor cut by a flying metal cable by binding his wound with kitchen cling film before winching him up to a Sea King.Finn said the new services would be just as good: the helicopters better, the crews as professional. "You'd be doing a disservice to civilian pilots to suggest they wouldn't go as far as military pilots. The ethos is saving life. It's highly likely people here will be serving in the future capability."Many military jobs will be affected. At Culdrose, 771 Squadron has about 50 crew, including pilots, observers and winch people, as well as more than 100 engineers, military and civilian. It employs civil servants, logisticians and survival equipment specialists.At its sister base, HMS Gannet near Glasgow, there are about 27 Navy personnel and Royal Marines and another 75 civilians. The RAF's 22 and 202 squadrons are bigger with about 200 crew plus engineers and support staff.The navy and the RAF know they will lose skilled staff to whoever wins the contract. But both are bullish, saying their people who stay will find other jobs within helicopter fleets.Navy personnel are likely to be least affected as, for them, SAR is used as a short-term "respite" tour to give frontline crew time in the UK. RAF search and rescue has been more of a long-term career choice. But aircrew may be able to sign on to the support helicopter fleet – the Chinooks, Pumas and Merlins.An RAF spokesman said: "Decisions will be made based on the manpower requirements of the RAF at that time."The move towards privatisation has been troubled. Under the last Labour government the plan was for a privately run SAR service involving military and civilian crews. The private finance initiative process collapsed in February 2011 because of irregularities in the procurement deal.In November 2011 the government announced another solution – a shorter contract for a private firm, or several, to replace the service provided by the navy and the RAF at eight bases and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), which runs SAR from four bases.The government said two SAR bases – RAF Boulmer in Northumberland and MCA Portland in Dorset – would be cut. It said faster, more modern, helicopters would provide the same or an improved service from 10 rather than 12 bases.It divided the service. Lot one is to be delivered in or near Sumburgh in Shetland, Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, Valley on Anglesey (where Prince William is based), Leconfield in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and Culdrose in Cornwall.Lot two will be near Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland, Prestwick, near Glasgow, Wattisham in Suffolk, Chivenor in Devon and Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire. Companies were invited to bid for one or both lots.The contract does not specify the number or type of helicopter that must be provided but sets "key user requirements" (KURs) such as taking off within 15 minutes of "shouts" between 8am and 10pm each day and 45 minutes during the night, being able to reach "very high" or "high-risk" areas within 60 minutes of takeoff, and having its "capability" available for at least 98% of the time.The contractors will be paid monthly in arrears and will incur financial penalties if they fail to meet their KURs.The contract includes clauses that would be foreign to experienced military personnel – all crews are to have criminal record checks, for example, and the companies will have to inform the government of impending industrial action.Modelling done for the government has concluded that helicopters reach 70% of very high, high and medium risk areas within 30 minutes but this would rise to 85% under the new system. It says average flying time would decrease from 23 minutes to 19.Critics are not so sure. Concerns about the future service include the size and range of the helicopters. The RAF's Sea Kings carry up to 17 passengers, the navy ones 10. Under the new contract, lot-one helicopters have to be able to take a minimum of eight survivors, and for lot-two it would be four.There is anxiety within the rescue community that reduced capacity may make it more difficult to suddenly get lots of people out of perilous situations – for example if a large ship were to sink, or a community, such as Boscastle, were hit by flooding.Range could also be an issue. The Sea Kings can go between 200 and 250 nautical miles without refuelling (which includes the ability to hover for 30 minutes at the site of the rescue). Lot-two helicopters – including those that will replace the naval base HMS Gannet at Prestwick, near Glasgow, which also covers Northern Ireland – are only required to have a range of 170 nautical miles.It is not surprising that Scottish volunteer rescue teams have strong opinions on the changes. Recently the Guardian joined a group training in the Cairngorms, working in sub-zero temperatures, with blizzards pushed by winds gusting to 75mph.At more than 900 metres (3,000ft) above sea level, the weather changes sharply and suddenly for the worst: in minutes, as the team practised evacuating a fallen climber by stretcher, bright sunshine morphed into blizzard conditions. A heavy bank of snow obliterated contours. Visibility was cut to just metres.Despite the weather, the rescue team was convinced military helicopters would have tried to land. In these conditions, a helicopter's ability to swiftly reach hospital could mean life or death for an injured climber. The alternative is a slow, painstaking, walk through arctic conditions to reach a road: it could take 24 people to do that job, three teams of eight taking it in turns to carry the casualty.The volunteers expect the first generation of crew for the privatised service will be former military, highly experienced and knowledgeable. But they are concerned about the financial and commercial interests of their employers and the skills of personnel hired later on. They ask if crews will be stopped from taking risks with expensive aircraft, or wonder if firms will balk at the time needed for complex operations.Missing climber searches in Scotland's mountain regions can take several days. They believe the military crews are trained to take risks, committed to tackling weather conditions and the dangerous gullies and corries that few commercial pilots would. One member of the team said he and his colleagues were "very, very, apprehensive" about privatisation.Helicopters are crucial in inhospitable areas. In 2011 Scotland's mountain rescue teams recovered nearly 700 climbers and walkers, of whom 52 died. In 34% of the 573 incidents, military and coastguard helicopters were used. They reach a vast area, operating all over the Scottish mainland and islands such as Skye, Arran and Mull. The RAF and navy crews also rescue downed military jets.Jonathan Hart, chair of the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland, which oversees Scotland's 30 or so mountain rescue teams, was largely positive. More agile helicopters would be used, he said. But he had concerns about the quality and amount of live training with rescue teams that the winning firms would offer.Hart said: "It's not without its challenges but I need to be positive. There are areas we'd want further clarification on: commitment to training, as we move from an MoD service to utilising a privatised service."More generally, there is also concern that under the new scheme helicopters could be required to do less. At present they support local ambulance services, helping with hospital transfers and medical evacuations from land. Between 2009-2011 the Portland helicopter, for example, did 148 such evacuations.The DfT has said it does not want SAR helicopters to carry out the duties of air ambulances but this has caused some concern among doctors.Ian Mew, clinical director for major trauma at Dorset county hospital, said: "The distinction between air ambulance, and search and rescue flights, can't be made as simply as [the government] would like to make out because the SAR helicopters will 'rescue' injured casualties from areas that air ambulances are unable to reach."Because of the coastline, the fact that many casualties in inaccessible areas need to be winched into the helicopter (air ambulances do not have winch facilities) and because the air ambulance will not attempt rescue at sea, search and rescue helicopters are required to undertake medical evacuation of sick or injured casualties from inaccessible coastal areas, and from boats and in the water."On the south coast, there is a campaign to save the coastguard-run base at Portland, where the Tory MP and former army officer Richard Drax claims that its loss might mean not meeting the 60-minute KUR. He said that if the helicopter at Lee-on-the-Solent were just 30 minutes east of its base, it would not be able to get to some areas covered by Portland within the stipulated time. The other nearest bases, Chivenor and Culdrose, would also struggle, even if their helicopters were at their bases and not on other tasks.The government has confirmed that modelling shows that from 2009-11 the average flying time for the Portland helicopter to an incident was 13 minutes. The modelled average response time under the new arrangements would have been 21 minutes.That sort of delay matters. The length of time a person can survive in the sea around Britain depends on factors including marine conditions, clothing and fitness. Figures used in the planning of the new SAR service show that in rough and cold water as many as 75% of people die in the first 15 minutes. Those who survive this first phase may have another 15 minutes before they become so hypothermic they then die.This is a worry for the millions of commercial and leisure sailors who use the busy waters around Portland, not to mention the divers for whom a delay in reaching a recompression chamber, after the bends, could be disastrous.And it is not far-fetched to imagine that the Lee-on-the-Solent helicopter might be busy when something happens in the Portland patch. In 2011 the Lee and Portland helicopters had tasks at the same time on 28 occasions.Another argument is that the English channel is becoming busier. Drax said he had been told by those working within SAR that an extra five to eight people could die every year when Portland goes.The government is confident the new SAR will be an improvement. It says Portland's work will be taken up by Lee-on-the-Solent, and if its helicopter is busy, Chivenor or Culdrose. It accepts it cannot anticipate what could be needed in the future but is "confident, based on historic incident data, that the future service will provide a comprehensive level of SAR cover".On capacity the government says that of the 8,344 rescues between January 2008 and June 2011, only 130 rescued more than three people and 16 more than 10. "In the event of large-scale incidents, the contractor may field additional aircraft as required." And it points out that the lot-one service will still reach out to a maximum of 250 nautical miles.Two companies are competing for the contracts, Bristow and Bond. Bristow provided the UK coastguard's SAR service for 25 years, completing more than 11,500 missions and rescuing nearly 7,000 people. It lost the contract to another operator, CHC, but from July will take over coastguard SAR, again in the north of Scotland. Bond has been providing SAR since 2006, flying more than 790 hours and completing almost 300 tasks. It operates the SAR service for BP in the North Sea.CHC, which has the civilian contract to provide SAR from the four coastguard bases, also tendered, but has been told its bid is not successful. It said it had been told that one rival bid was 20% lower than its offer. That may be worrying to sceptics about the commercialisation of the service but those within SAR point out that winning the contract will be great PR for the company and open the door for contracts around the world so the other two will be keen to put in the most competitive bids they can.It is not known exactly how much the service costs because it is hard to separate the Sea King's SAR duties from their other work. But in the last financial year the coastguard spent about £30m on SAR.There will be a handover period when the military and the new civilian service work together but by 1 January 2016 all the military SAR services will have ended. Ian "Zippy" Thompson is retiring from the navy after 33 years (31 of them flying). 771 Squadron is to be decommissioned. The Sea Kings will be sold off. Some may be bought by governments who think there may yet be a bit of life in them; some may be snapped up by private companies; others may be stripped down and used as attractions. And the comforting clatter of the Sea King's blades, so familiar to British seaside visitors for 40 years, will be heard no more.PrivatisationRoyal NavyRoyal Air ForceEconomic policyAir transportMountainsMountaineeringSeverin CarrellSteven Morrisguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds