Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, has backed the call by Highland Councillors to have a second Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV) reinstated to cover north and west coast waters.
The call comes on the back of the recent incident whereby a boat carrying nuclear waste through north waters caught fire and was left drifting in the north sea, resulting in the Beatrice oil platform being evacuated as a precaution.
David Stewart commented: “Some three years ago I made my concerns known about the removal of one of the two emergency tugs which covered north and west coast waters.
“I supported the Scottish ETV Working Group and the Highlands & Islands Conveners’ Group in calling for the reinstatement of the second emergency tug which was withdrawn as part of a cost cutting measure by the Westminster government.
“The solitary ETV for the north and west would take an estimated 8 hours to reach the north Minch and 12 hours to reach Barra Head from its Orkney base.
“This latest incident has also shown that not only are north and west coast communities and seafarers being left in an extremely vulnerable position but off-shore workers are vulnerable too.”
Mr Stewart continued: “Westminster’s Transport Committee questioned how one ETV, stationed in Orkney, could adequately cover the west coast.
“The coalition government must therefore listen to the ongoing concerns of communities throughout the Highlands and Islands and reinstate the second tug as a matter of some urgency.”