TENS of thousands of pounds have been spent rescuing foolish motorists who attempt to beat the tide on Holy Island causeway.
Official figures reveal that more than £42,000 of taxpayers’ money was spent in dramatic air sea rescues in the last three years.
The RNLI inshore lifeboat at Seahouses also notched up thousands of pounds to ferry people to safety over the same period.
According to a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Defence, the RAF only used the Sea King Mk3 helicopter on four occasions to rescue 10 people from their abandoned cars, but the cost was astronomical.
In 2008 there were two rescues lasting nearly two hours, running up a total bill of £20,715.
A year later the RAF helicopter was up again for 45 minutes, which cost £9,321. On this occasion two tourists in their 60s were rescued when their car became trapped by rising tide water. And last year another rescue took place lasting an hour which cost £12,429.
Finally, earlier this month a middle- aged couple were winched to safety when they tried to cross the causeway 90 minutes after the tide deadline. The bill for this operation has not yet been revealed.
A spokesman for the MoD said: “The taxpayer meets those costs, but those rescued don’t have to pay anything.”
The Sea King Mk3 was first brought into service in 1979. It uses about a 1,000lbs of aviation fuel an hour which can increase as it hovers over tricky rescue sites.