Danny Alexander throws mountain rescue teams a £200,000 funding lifeline

DANNY Alexander has pledged £200,000 additional funding for mountain rescue teams across the UK.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury included 68,000 for Scottish organisations in the pledge.

It is the first time the UK Government has given direct funding to mountain rescue services and will contribute to the cost of procuring mountain rescue equipment this year.

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The Treasury said it would be the first of four years of funding, with at least 200,000 available in each year.

The money will go to 75 teams performing mountain or cave rescue activity across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Mr Alexander said: "I am incredibly pleased to announce this additional funding.

"This recognises the valuable and unique work that volunteer mountain rescue teams do across the UK and will help support the costs of expensive rescue equipment."

The allocations will see 124,000 going to mountain rescue teams in England and Wales, and 8,000 for those in Northern Ireland.

The cash will go to three organisations - Mountain Rescue England and Wales, Mountain Rescue Council of Scotland and Northern Ireland Mountain, and Cave and Cliff Rescue.

There are 24 mountain rescue teams in Scotland, with 48 in England and Wales, and three in Northern Ireland.

It follows concerns raised about helicopter cover for search-and-rescue operations in Scotland after the cancellation of privatisation plans.

Under a 6 billion proposal, the Soteria consortium had been due to take over the operation of Scotland's two military search-and-rescue helicopter bases next year.