The west coast of Scotland remains unprotected and vulnerable says Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil, as the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Chief says it was right decision to cut the provision of Emergency Towing Vessels in Scotland.

Despite the grounding of the Transocean Winner oil rig on the west coast of Lewis and the threat of a much more serious incident in future, Sir Alan Massey, MCA Chief Executive, told the House of Commons Transport Select Committee yesterday (Monday) that the UK Government had been ‘vindicated’ and that it had been the right decision to reduce ETV provision in Scotland to just one vessel.

The Committee was carrying out an evidence session into the Transocean incident at the request of Mr MacNeil who had written to the Chair of the Transport Select Committee following the serious incident off Lewis.

Mr MacNeil said: “It was not surprising to hear the comments from the MCA yesterday regarding the ETV provision, they do after all work for the UK Government.

“When the MCA had two vessels operating in Scottish waters, the MCA needed two vessels and were not saying that only one was needed.

“Sir Alan Massey said that it would take ‘very unfortunate circumstances of bad luck’ for the case for two ETVs in Scotland to be looked at again – the reality is that most maritime emergencies are ‘unfortunate circumstances of bad luck’ and that is when a tug would be required.

"It still remains the issue that while our northern neighbours are beefing up that sort of maritime insurance policy, the UK Government is playing fast and loose and crossing its fingers that statistically rare probabilities do not ever occur.”