Tug cover raised at Prime Minister’s Questions
The future of emergency tug cover has been raised at Westminster during Prime Minister’s Questions.
Alistair Carmichael has urged David Cameron to personally examine ETV provision in the Northern Isles.
It comes as the latest development among calls for emergency tugs to remain once an extended contract runs out on 30th September.
The Shetland Times is running a campaign and petition to retain a tug.
Mr Carmichael cited the environmental and economic devastation of the Braer grounding in 1993 as he asked the Prime Minister to reconsider the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s plan to end funding for the tug in six months time.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Carmichael said: “In 1993 the oil tanker Braer ran aground on the south coast of Shetland. It was carrying 85,000 tonnes of Gullfaks crude which then spilled into the sea and onto our shoreline. It caused economic and environmental devastation.
“Since the Donaldson Report into that disaster we have had an emergency tug stationed in the Northern Isles. It is our protection against ever being blighted in that way again. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency now wants to take that tug away. There will be no finance for it after September.
“Will the Prime Minister look again at that decision and will he give an undertaking to the people of Shetland that he met in 2014 not to leave them exposed in that way again.”
Speaking afterwards, Mr Carmichael said there was little “commitment” from David Cameron over the issue.
“Every winter we see pictures of the Prime Minister in his wellington boots visiting communities hit by flooding. He should imagine what it would be like if, instead of wading through flood water in his wellingtons, he was wading through crude oil on a beach.
“He might then ask himself how he would look people in the eye if he knew that this had happened because his government removed the only protection that might have prevented it.
“There was not much commitment from the Prime Minister in his answer today but if he pushes ahead and axes the tug then he will never be able to say that he was not warned. The tug is our insurance policy. You pay your insurance premiums in good times and in bad so that when you need protection it will be there for you.”