Council Leader welcomes stay of execution for Scotland’s ETV

The Leader of the Highland Council, Margaret Davidson, has welcomed the announcement by the UK Transport Minister Robert Goodwill, that the emergency towing vessel (ETV) will continue to cover the north of Scotland for at least another six months. The UK Government had previously stated that continued funding was no longer considered a priority and the contract was due to end in March this year.

The Highland Council has consistently argued that the continuation and enhancement of the Emergency Towing Vessel capability is crucial to the protection of its extensive coastline. Earlier this month the Leader of the Highland Council, Margaret Davidson, attended a day long session hosted by the MCA and involving a range of stakeholders to look at the implications of the ETV’s removal.

At this meeting there was unanimous approval of an MCA risk assessment which showed that removal of the ETV would raise the risk of catastrophic environmental damage and threat to life to unacceptable levels. Attendees agreed to work with the MCA to explore a range of delivery models but stressed time was far too limited to achieve an satisfactory outcome without an extension to the current contract.

The Minister announced in Parliament last night that the contract had been extended to allow time for a longer-term solution to be found.

The Leader of the Highland Council, Margaret Davidson, said: “I welcome the temporary reprieve for the retention of the current ETV provision. This decision goes some way to the UK Government acknowledging the risks we face from extreme weather, treacherous coastlines, hazardous tides and the transportation of fuel and nuclear material in our northern waters and therefore the huge importance of maintaining the presence of this capability in the north.

“This allows a short amount of time to pause and reflect on the issues that have been raised and also to consider how these risks in the north and in the Minches will be managed in the long term. Let us use this time constructively to ensure that wise decisions will be made on the long term provision of maritime safety around our shores.”

Richard Greene - Vice Chair of the Council’s Community Services Committee and Council representative of Kommunenes Internasjonale Miljøorganisasjon (KIMO) - said: “This is good news and suggests the Government is listening to our genuine concerns. However, the relief is only temporary and we need to keep working with the Government to reach a sustainable long term solution, not only to maintain the current level of protection but also to reintroduce operational capability to protect the west coast and the Minches in particular.”

23 Feb 2016
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