WESTERN ISLES MSP REITERATES CALLS FOR WEST COAST TUG

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has called for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to come to the Western Isles and listen to islanders’ views as part of a study assessing emergency towage arrangements in UK waters.

Prior to 2012 Scotland was served by two Emergency Towing Vessels (ETVs) – one based in the Northern Isles and the one based in Stornoway to cover the West Coast. However, the Stornoway-based tug was scrapped by the UK Government, leaving Scotland to be covered by just one ETV based in Orkney.

The MCA has recently announced a study to review the risks presented by, and to, shipping within the UK Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and to assess the availability and adequacy of emergency towage arrangements. As part of this study four town hall stakeholder meetings will be held. However, the only Scottish meeting is in Edinburgh – far away from the communities most affected.

Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said:

“For years we have been calling for the UK Government to live up to its maritime safety obligations and reinstate a dedicated ETV for the west coast of Scotland.

“This review is a welcome opportunity to reverse the dangerous cuts to emergency towing vessels after the UK government left Scotland with just one single emergency tug.

“But it is very disappointing to see just a single stakeholder meeting in Scotland – held in Edinburgh, some distance from most of our coastal, island and fishing communities.

“If the Maritime and Coastguard Agency are serious about this consultation they need to properly engage with communities and industry in communities like the Western Isles.”

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