Commenting after attending a day seminar in Edinburgh on future emergency towing provision, Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, described the work done to date on future provision as "incoherent and incomplete".
Mr Carmichael said, "It was apparent five years ago that the MCA did not see the value in the Emergency Towing Vessel and it was equally clear from today's session that this has not changed. They produced a risk assessment which, even though it had massive gaps in it, still showed the risk associated with removing a locally-stationed tug was unacceptably high. They seem to expect the private sector to fill the gap that they are intending leaving but can not identify where that is going to come from.
"The other fact from which there is no escaping is that the government has put the horse before the cart. They are assessing risk AFTER the decision has been made to remove the budget. In these circumstances it is difficult to see this exercise as a meaningful or good faith exercise.
"Twenty-one years ago Lord Donaldson in his report recommended the stationing of emergency towing vessels around the coast. He identified in detail the considerations that the government should take into account when making these decisions. You would have thought that this would be a very obvious starting point for the MCA. It was blindingly obvious that they had not.
"If the government are sincere when they say that they want to consult then the first thing they should do is extend the contract beyond the current end date of 31 March. That can be done and should be done."