First talks on future for emergency tugs described as ‘positive’

Efforts to secure long-term funding for emergency towing vessels in the waters around Shetland and the Western Isles began in positive fashion in Edinburgh today.

Representatives of Shetland Islands Council joined their counterparts from Orkney, Highland and the Western Isles at the session with Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, Scotland Office minister David Mundell and officials from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), the Department for Transport, Marine Scotland, KIMO and the Chamber of Shipping.

Mr Moore said afterwards: “This was a practical and constructive first meeting. We are determined to do everything we can to find a viable, long term alternative. Our discussions today were focused on what Scotland needs from its ETVs and what the options may be in finding a long-term replacement. We worked well across a wide range of interests and I am confident we can put the huge level of expertise and experience represented on the group to good work.”

The original tug contract ended a fortnight ago when the UK government announced it had secured interim funding of £3 million for three months to cover the ETVs.

The MCA awarded the new 90-day contract to JP Knight on Friday. The tugs were back on station at the weekend.

The convener of Orkney Council Stephen Hagan welcomed today’s meeting on behalf of the group, saying: “We are pleased that the government is looking for a long-term solution and we are happy to play our part to work towards that. We are hopeful that we can reach an outcome that is mutually acceptable.”


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