Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has written to the Transport Secretary asking him to outline his plans for the future of the Northern Isles emergency towing vessel, after the Government made no reference to the contract in their Spending Review.
The contract for the emergency towing vessel expires in April 2016. With the Department for Transport’s budget set to be cut by 37% by 2020, major infrastructure projects and the UK’s transport network will face added pressures. Mr Carmichael believes that these financial cutbacks may result in the Government failing to renew the towing vessel contract.
Commenting, Mr Carmichael said:
The retention of the emergency towing vessel is absolutely vital for maritime safety in the Northern Isles, yet, once again, we find its future is unclear. Just this week, the tug was deployed to assist a vessel which had got into difficulties off the west coast of Orkney. This is another reminder of the value of the service, and you only have to recall the disaster of the Braer grounding to appreciate its importance to the Northern Isles.
I have made the case for extension of the contract a number of times to the Transport Secretary, and I had hoped this Spending Review would have provided us with some certainty. Sadly this was not the case and time is now running out for renewal. If the contract is not to be renewed then that needs to be known well in advance.