Consortiums to splash out £5bn in UK's big Coastguard sell-off

Britain's coastal search and rescue operations up for grabs in Government's controversial sale of public services

Four consortiums of British and overseas companies are bidding to secure a controversial £5bn contract that will see the partial privatisation of HM Coastguard.

The deal, involving the outsourcing of Britain's coastal helicopter search and rescue operations, is one of the largest private finance initiatives in the UK to date.

The Ministry of Defence and the Department for Transport will begin a process of "competitive dialogue" with each of the bidding groups next month after four months spent vetting their financial and technical capabilities.

The contract, estimated to be worth between £3bn and £5bn, includes everything from the provision of helicopters to the training of personnel and maintenance of equipment at 12 coastguard bases around the country. The contracts will have a term of between 20 and 30 years.

US defence giant Lockheed Martin has formed a consortium with shipbuilding and services group VT and British International, a helicopter company. It is up against a team of Thales of France and Canada's CHC Helicopter and another comprised of Bristow Helicopters, FB Heliservices, a joint venture between Cobham and Bristow, and service company Serco. A fourth group is made up AgustaWestland and Bond Helicopter.

The outsourcing deal is likely to be another controversial example of the Government's continuing commitment to transfer huge swathes of Britain's public services to private ownership as it seeks to cut costs and increase efficiency.

Last month, the Defence Secretary, Des Browne, awarded a 25-year military training contract worth up to £16bn to a consortium led by QinetiQ, the former Government defence research labs. That sparked accusations of a conflict of interest on the part of the Government, which is a 20 per cent shareholder in QinetiQ.

The MoD and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is part of the DfT, will begin talks with the bidding groups on 12 March to clarify its requirements and allow the bidders to hone their offers.

Search and rescue involves a wide range of services and government groups, including the police, fire and ambulance services, as well as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

The bidders will eventually be whittled down to two, which will then face off in an auction. The contract is not expected to come into effect until 2012. CHC and Thales UK won an interim five-year contract to carry out coastguard's helicopter services at four UK bases.

News
newsVideo targets undecided voters
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
News
Evan Spiegel, the founder of Snapchat, dropped out of Stanford University just before graduation to develop his app
techAnd yes, it is quite a lot
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Calypso Developer

£500 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: Calypso Developer Calypso, J2SE, XML, ...

IT Developer/Analyst

£35000 - £36000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A market leading financia...

Pricing Manager, Finance, Edinburgh, £250-350p/d

£250 - £350 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is cur...

Client Services Executive / Account Executive - SW London

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Account Executive / Client Services ...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis