Northern Isles MP, Alistair Carmichael, has written to the chair of Parliament’s Transport Select Committee requesting an urgent evidence session with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency over the Government’s decision to withdraw provision for the Emergency Towing Vessel.
In the last Parliament, the Transport Committee reported on the plans to remove the emergency tugs which serve the Northern and Western Isles. With just weeks to go until the tug contract ends, Mr Carmichael has written to the chair of the committee, Louise Ellman MP, to request her to call an urgent evidence session with the MCA and the Shipping Minister.
On Wednesday 10th February, Mr Carmichael attended a day-long seminar in Edinburgh hosted by the MCA for stakeholders on the future of the ETVs.
Commenting, Mr Carmichael said:
“I left the seminar in Edinburgh last Wednesday deeply frustrated at the MCA’s stance on the future of our lifeline coastguard tugs. Their poor risk assessment was lacking in basic data, offered microscopic analysis of the risks of collisions (which has never been a problem in the past) and failed to understand the difficulties of the private sector stepping into cover.
“I have tried to secure an urgent question in Parliament and have been constantly pressing ministers to change course. Now I believe the Government and the MCA need to be hauled to Parliament to explain in front of the Transport Committee why these cuts are necessary, and why, with barely 7 weeks to the end of the contract, no contingency plan is in place.
“Let us not forget why we have the ETVs in the first place: the grounding of the Braer in Shetland in 1993. The subsequent, comprehensive report from Lord Donaldson could not be clearer in calling for permanent at sea vessels. If such an accident was to occur again, the consequences of not having a locally-stationed coastguard tug would be awful.”