The SNP has demanded that the Chancellor takes the opportunity of this week’s Autumn Statement to reintroduce a second emergency towing vessel for Scotland’s islands – after it became abundantly clear this year that having only one vessel to cover both the Northern and Western Isles was not safe.

The grounding of an oil rig off the west coast in August showed the ongoing risk of having only one emergency vessel patrolling the area – a point argued by BP in a letter to the UK government five years ago, revealed under an FOI request. The UK government ignored these warnings and continued with their cuts

The SNP is calling on the UK government to reverse this decision and reinstate the second emergency tug vessel – with it being patently clear that their cost-cutting agenda is putting maritime and environmental safety at risk.

Commenting, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, said:

“Cutting this emergency vessel – against all expert advice and the warnings of the SNP – has proven a very unsafe move. The grounding of the Transocean Winner rig was an accident waiting to happen after the UK Government made these cuts, and the response time of nearly a full day demonstrates the ongoing risk from having only one emergency vessel.

“It is absolutely vital that the Chancellor uses the opportunity of the Autumn Statement to correct this mistake which has put maritime and environmental safety at risk.

“The SNP has consistently opposed the cut to this Emergency Towing Vessel – arguing on the side of unions and industry experts – but the Tories have consistently ignored these warnings and calls for a rethink.

“The Autumn Statement, Philipp Hammond’s first as Chancellor, gives the Tories the chance to reverse this decision – and I urge him to do so in the interests of safety for both our environment and our offshore workers.”

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