Future of emergency tugs remains uncertain

The future of the emergency coastguard tugs which were introduced after the Braer disaster in January 1993 is still hanging in the balance following a key meeting between council officials and Scottish Secretary Michael Moore in Edinburgh.

SIC councillor Rick Nickerson was standing in for the council’s political leader Josie Simpson to represent the isles at the meeting in Edinburgh today. Representatives from Highland, Orkney and Western Isles councils were also present.

Speaking afterwards Mr Nickerson said it had been “a constructive meeting”, although there was still no firm decision to retain the emergency vessels once the extended contract finishes at the end of this month.

A Scotland Office spokesman said: “Both the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Scotland Office minister David Mundell met the Scottish ETV Group in Edinburgh. It was a constructive and productive meeting which covered a range of subjects. The group continues to work hard and make progress. There will be a further meeting shortly which will specifically look at the issue of future cover for the Western Isles.”

The tugs were initially due to be scrapped last year following concerns by the coalition government that they were not cost-effective enough.

However the vessels were given a reprieve after concerns were raised about maritime safety.

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