LIBERAL Democrat MEP Chris Davies visited Bolton Mountain Rescue on Saturday as he campaigns to change European Law to offer the organisation the same tax relief as sea rescue services.

Under current European law, mountain rescue teams are liable to pay VAT for the majority of their purchases despite being a voluntary organisation, but sea rescue services have VAT exemption.

Mr Davies hopes his campaign and petition, which has almost 3,000 signatures, will help towards changing the legislation when the European Commission finishes its review on April 24.

Garry Rhodes, Bolton Mountain Rescue team leader, said: “We would like the law changed to bring mountain rescues in line with the sea rescues benefits.

"We rely on public donations, charitable trusts and bequests, and at the moment every time £1 is put into our collection boxes about 20p goes to the government.

“We do get tax relief on a small number of purchases, such as those related to our ambulances, but for the majority of equipment we buy we have to pay it.”

Mr Davies said: “Mountain rescue currently has to pay VAT on all its purchases, which is outrageous considering these are voluntary organisations.

“Marine safety organisations are excluded from paying VAT, but mountain rescues are not. But in many ways the mountain rescue is being used as an alternative emergency service, being called when the police alert them.

“The European Commission is carrying out a review, and we hope that representatives from the UK and Ireland especially will support the cause so we can get the rules changed.”

You can sign the petition online here.