Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed the UK Government’s decision to extend the contract for one Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV) based in the Northern Isles but will continue to make the case for an ETV to be based in the West of Scotland.
Comhairle Leader, Cllr Angus Campbell said: “Whilst it is welcome that the contract for the extension of the current ETV based in the Northern Isles, it is disappointing that the Government has not recognised the need for a second vessel to help protect the mariners and the environment of the west coast.
“I believe that the number of incidents over the past few years highlight the very serious risks around our coastal waters. The extension of the north based ETV contract clearly demonstrates that the government also realizes the dangers and therefore, it is absolutely essential that we also have an additional ETV, based on the west coast, so that we have adequate safety measures in place to respond swiftly to incidents, to protect lives and minimise the risk of environmental damage.”
His call for a second vessel was also backed by MP Angus MacNeil, who said: “Mr Goodwill (UK Transport Minister) has said that operational experience has shown that a single vessel is sufficient to meet the needs for emergency towage and that a second ETV cannot be justified. I would say to him that the risks are still the same as they were prior to 2011 and the fact is that it would take many hours for an ETV to steam from Orkney to some parts of the west coast in the event of an emergency situation and the reality is that this could be too late.”