The UK government is close to signing a deal with the oil industry which could soon see a second emergency tug protecting Shetland’s waters once again.
High-level talks aimed at getting industry more involved in tug provision are close to reaching a conclusion, according to isles MP Alistair Carmichael.
The negotiations have been ongoing since the number of rescue tugs covering Scotland were cut from two to one as part of the Coalition government’s programme of public spending cuts.
The Department for Transport agreed to provide funding for one full-time tug stationed at Orkney. But that vessel is also used to cover emergencies in Shetland and the Western Isles.
Mr Carmichael said a positive outcome was not far away.
“I was delighted when the Department for Transport agreed to station a tug full time in Orkney, covering Shetland and – if necessary – the Western Isles.
“We’re now at the point where back-up for that tug should be available from the oil industry.
“I would hope the conclusion of that will come fairly soon, in weeks rather than months.”
Originally four tugs were used to patrol the UK coastline, with two of them stationed north of the border.
The vessels were introduced as one of the recommendations from Lord Donaldson’s report into the <i>Braer</i> disaster, which reached its 20th anniversary on Saturday. In Friday’s paper The Shetland Times looked back on the dramatic event.