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, along with colleagues in neighbouring councils, 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.”

He continued: “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. 

“There have been several occasions over the years, when the north based tug has not been used for incidents off the west coast, which contradicts what had previously been agreed on the service and poses the question of whether it is to be used for incidents off the west coast. 

“Therefore, we would call on the UK Government to reconsider the provision of a second tug based in the Western waters of Scotland to reduce the risk for mariners and the environment in what is a major shipping area.”

Cllr Campbell added: “We remain very concerned, as do colleagues in neighbouring councils, about the current situation which increases the risks for mariners and the environment.

“The MCA themselves concluded that the commercial towage market cannot reliably meet the need for a dedicated service to cover the seas around Scotland and this is particularly so off the west coast. 

“We will continue to campaign for adequate provision of ETVs in Scottish waters.”