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Last minute reprieve for tugs

The coastguard tugs are to stay in local waters for at least another three months - Photo: Shetland News

A BREAKTRHOUGH which allows the two emergency towing vessels (ETVs) to continue patrolling the waters to the north and west of Scotland has been confirmed by northern isles MP Alistair Carmichael.

New government funding will allow the two ETVs to remain on station for another three months to allow for a new funding package to be negotiated.

Mr Carmichael, who is the deputy chief whip in the coalition government, said he was absolutely delighted at securing an 11th hour deal.

ETV cover for the waters around Shetland, Orkney and The Minch was due to come to an end at midnight on Friday. One of the two vessels had already left the area.

Speaking from London before boarding a plane home, Mr Carmichael said: “I am absolutely delighted that we have managed to secure the funding to keep these tugs in the water.

“We are not out of the woods yet, and there is still a lot of work to be done, but this is the most significant progress that we could possibly have hoped for at this stage.”

The Shetland branch of the PCS union, which represents members at the Shetland Coastguard Station, has given a cautious.

A spokesperson said: “We obviously welcome this news as the ETV is an extremely useful tool to have in our toolbox, particularly with winter fast approaching.

“Yet again the government has been forced to acknowledge it got things wrong and hopefully this is a sign that they are now seeing sense. However, this is only a short-term measure and we urgently need something more permanent put in place.”