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More fury at tug removal

SCOTTISH environment secretary Richard Lochhead and environmental campaign group KIMO UK have joined the chorus of voices against the government’s removal of the coastguard’s emergency towing vessels (ETVs) at the end of this week.

Visiting Aberdeen coastguard centre, Mr Lochhead said the government’s approach to modernising the coastguard service was “uncoordinated, at best” and plans to downgrade the Aberdeen base raised serious questions.

He urged shipping minister Mike Penning to reconsider the removal of the tugs and the decision to close coastguard centres at the Clyde and the Forth.

KIMO UK has voiced its fury at the decision last weekend to take the western isles ETV out of service and leave the northern isles tug covering the whole of the north of the UK.

The organisation said that while Britain was scrapping its tugs at the end of this week to save money, Germany had eight tugs to cover a fraction of the coastline.

KMO UK chairman Len Scoullar said with the increasing industrial developments at sea with offshore renewables and aquaculture and larger ships, the “ludicrous decision” had to be reversed as soon as possible.

An MCA spokeswoman said that the coastguard tugs were being moved off station before the end of the contract on Friday to avoid “any further cost to the taxpayer”.

She said: “The MCA has to return the ETVs to their previous state and it is better value for money to do this before they are returned to their owners.

“The Shetland ETV (Anglian Earl) is now in Loch Eriboll (near Durness) and is covering for both the Anglian Earl and the Anglian Sovereign (normally based in the western isles).”

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