Comments made by Sir Alan Massey have been criticised after he defended the UK government’s decision for Scotland to be left with only one emergency towing vessel.

The grounding of the Transocean Winner rig off Lewis showed the dangers of having only one emergency tug operating off the coast of Scotland – with the chief of the UK government Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s view that only one is needed being labelled “completely misguided”.

The response time of 18 hours for the Transocean incident is dangerous and unsustainable – and the plans for the tug to patrol Scottish waters could easily see our sole emergency response vehicle on the wrong side of the country during a future incident.

In the aftermath of the Transocean Winner grounding, Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan has suggested that more rigs be decommissioned in Scottish ports in the future rather than towed to the Mediterranean or around the world.

Commenting, SNP MSP for the Western Isles, Alasdair Allan, said:

“The remarks made by Sir Alan Massey at the Commons Select Committee hearing were completely misguided and nothing more than a defence of Tory cuts rather than offering a justifiable reason for reducing the number of emergency towing vessels.

“Cutting back to only one emergency tug patrolling Scotland is a dangerous move – as the vessel could be off the coast of Arran when it is needed in Shetland.

“The Tories must reverse these cuts and bring back a second towing vessel before we see another incident like the grounding of the Transocean rig earlier this year.

“That incident should be a wake-up call for industry. Towing rigs to places such as the Mediterranean for decommissioning is less safe, more harmful to the environment and more inefficient than decommissioning in Scottish ports. We must make efforts to decommission these rigs in Scotland – creating jobs and economic growth, whilst allowing the industry to pay back in to Scottish communities.”

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