Robinson to press minister over emergency tugs

Shetland Islands Council is calling on the UK government to guarantee the future provision of coastguard tugs in the Northern Isles.

Funding for the vessel, Herakles, currently stationed in Orkney is only in place until March next year and there appear to be no plans to continue that essential cover beyond that date.

The coastguard tug Herakles, seen here in Scalloway Harbour. Photo: Mark Burgess.
The coastguard tug Herakles, seen here in Scalloway Harbour. Photo: Mark Burgess.

In a letter to the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, SIC political leader Gary Robinson said it was unacceptable that the already limited provision of such vessels should come to an end.

Provision for the Northern Isles was reduced in 2010 following the UK government’s spending review, and the council now has grave concerns that it may be withdrawn altogether next year.

Mr Robinson said: “I will be meeting with the secretary of state next month and this issue will be very high on the agenda.

“There’s been a marked increase in shipping around our shores in recent years due to the presence of the oil and gas industry – and Shetland now has a seafood industry worth £300 million a year to the local economy.

“It’s simply unacceptable that we should be left without such essential protection in an area which can have such hostile weather conditions.

“It took years of lobbying to get an emergency tug based here following the loss of the Braer, and it is unthinkable that that cover could now be removed.”


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