Raising blood pressure

What a stupid, useless man! I refer, of course, to the UK shipping minister Mike Penning who I have just had the misfortune to listen to on Radio Shetland.

The more I heard him, the more my blood pressure rose. He says it is not the duty of the government to fund emergency tugs to protect the investments of the oil industry through taxpayers’ money. Well, pardon me, but I was under the impression that it said “Coastguard” in big red letters along the sides of these vessels, not oil industry guard.

The very purpose of these vessels is to prevent any vessel from coming ashore and causing pollution and possible loss of life, be it a laden tanker on “innocent passage” as in the case of the Braer, or a small cargo ship like the Green Lily. Both of these were caused by adverse weather conditions and in no way could be attributed to the activities of the oil industry in this country.

In my opinion £32.5 million over four years is a screaming bargain when you consider that the presence of such a vessel may have been able to prevent the Braer coming ashore, leading to the subsequent total loss of that vessel and the claims and clean up costs that arose from it. A damn sight more than his paltry £32.5 million. That is not to mention the Sea Empress, the Amoco Cadiz and the Torrey Canyon, to name but a few.

Also, Penning appears to have forgotten that the oil industry itself is a major taxpayer, contributing a vast amount of money to this country, most of which appears to be squandered by Westminster on dubious projects or vanishes into the money pit that is the European Commission.

Colin Hunter


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