Tractor tests water for lifeboat HQ

WESTON'S RNLI crews are a step closer to having a fully operational lifeboat station on Birnbeck Pier. Urban Splash, the company which owns the island and connecting pier, has given the RNLI permission to conduct vital lifeboat launching trials, which wil

WESTON'S RNLI crews are a step closer to having a fully operational lifeboat station on Birnbeck Pier.Urban Splash, the company which owns the island and connecting pier, has given the RNLI permission to conduct vital lifeboat launching trials, which will include the launching of a vessel into the water using a tractor and carriage system from the slipway which is currently used on the island. If the trials are successful the lifesavers can repair an old access ramp on the opposite side of the island, which was built in 1902, to use permanently.The RNLI has been based on Birnbeck Island since 1882, but the charity has been reluctant to invest in its slipway due to long term concerns over access, tidal problems and the deteriorating condition of the slipway.Due to these problems, Weston RNLI's larger Atlantic 75 lifeboat has been moored just off the station or in the River Axe at the opposite end of Weston Bay and has been unable to launch on a low tide.Howard Ramm, RNLI divisional inspector, said: "Our plan is to reinstate the launch ramp located alongside the original lifeboat station and use a tractor and carriage to move the lifeboat. "We hope to prove through these trials that this would be a suitable immediate solution and a potential long-term method for launching to emergency call outs and ensuing recovery operations."If the trials are successful a temporary compound will be set up on the island to store the lifeboat and vehicle. Urban Splash has been immensely co-operative and helpful to the RNLI and this gives us confidence for the future."A spokesman for Urban Splash said: "Urban Splash and the RNLI have agreed to work together to build on their relationship and work towards achieving their mutual long term objectives for the pier and island.


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