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October 27, 2005
Weston Lifeboat station may use launch tractors similar to Burnham's

Similar tractors to those used to launch Burnham-On-Sea RNLI's lifeboats from the town's beach, pictured below, may be used in Weston-super-Mare as well.

A tractor is pictured launching one of Burnham-On-Sea RNLI's lifeboatsAt the end of September inspectors from the RNLI visited the existing Weston lifeboat station, based on Birnbeck Island, and noted a number of repairs were needed. These include urgent work to maintain the slipway used to launch the lifeboats from the boathouse.

However, the cost of these repairs and the uncertainty surrounding the future use of Birnbeck Pier means that, in the interest of using the public’s donations effectively, the RNLI has looked at alternative launch venues in Weston.

As a stopgap measure, Weston's Atlantic class lifeboat will be based at the yacht club in the River Axe at the other end of Weston Bay, and a temporary station will be built there to house the craft over the winter.

The use of the launch tractors was successfully trialled at Anchor Head. These tractors are able to push the lifeboats out over the mud flats in Weston using specially designed carriages and would increase the availability of the Atlantic class lifeboat over the low spring tide.

Pete Holder, RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager at Weston, said: "Whilst the long term future of Birnbeck Island is considered, and the RNLI looks at all the practical options available, the Atlantic 75 class lifeboat will operate from the River Axe. The D-Class lifeboat will remain at Birnbeck Island."

"The availability of both lifeboats, and their impressive response time of 8 minutes, will not be affected by this new operating procedure."

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