Local MP, Alistair Carmichael , has called on the Government to convene a meeting with Scottish Ministers and local authority and industry representatives to discuss future provision of the emergency coastguard tug for the Northern Isles.
Funding for the Orkney-based vessel is only guaranteed until the end of the financial year in April 2016.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Carmichael asked the Transport Secretary if he would be willing to arrange a meeting with a number of interested parties, and received a commitment to discuss the issue further.
Mr Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD) :
The Secretary of State is aware that the funding for the coastguard tug currently based in Orkney is guaranteed only until the end of this financial year. Will he convene a round-table meeting, perhaps involving Scottish Ministers, local authorities and industry representatives, to see how we might find a way of keeping this most vital provision in place for the future?
I am aware of the vessel, partly because I visited it with the right hon. Gentleman in the last Parliament, and I am more than happy to meet him to discuss this matter.
Commenting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said;
" It is essential for the Northern Isles that the contract for the coastguard tug is extended once again. When the service was under threat in 2012, we all saw the huge local opposition to its removal and I had to push my former colleagues in government very hard to retain the service."
"As he acknowledged in the House of Commons, the Transport Secretary has seen the vessel for himself on a trip to Orkney, so he knows of its importance in keeping the coastline safe. I am pleased he will meet to discuss this and shall remind him then why this tug was put on station following the grounding of the Braer and that it is needed today as much as it ever was".