Emergency tug contract gets six-month extension

The emergency tug has been given a stay of execution for six months following a House of Commons debate.

UK transport minister Robert Goodwill said the contract for the Orkney-based Herakles, which had been due to expire at the end of March, was being extended to allow time for a longer-term solution to be found. It is now due to expire on 30th September.

The extension follows yesterday’s cross-party support for the retention of the tug. There has also been growing support for The Shetland Times campaign to keep the vessel in place, which has gained more than 250 signatures.

But although welcomed, the move is only a temporary fix, and pressure will undoubtedly be brought to bear on the Westminster government for a permanent solution.

Isles MSP Tavish Scott said a permanent salvage tug was required – and not constant uncertainty over the future of ETV provision.

“There is nothing like an election to concentrate the mind of a government. So this six month extension to the emergency towing vessel contract looks like a response to that.

“Instead of short term fixes Shetland needs a government who believe in a permanent solution. Shetland depends on a pristine marine environment.

“The seafood industry is valued at £350 million. That is massively important for Shetland and the wider UK economy.

“So I want the UK government to spend the next few months working out a permanent contract for the salvage tug based in our waters.

“We need an end to sticking plaster policy that is the hallmark of this government.”

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