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News / Northern coastguard tug saved

The ETV Anglian Sovereign at Blacksness Pier.

THE COASTGUARD’S northern isles tug Anglian Sovereign which was due to go out of service at midnight on Wednesday is to remain on duty until the end of this month.

Northern isles MP Alistair Carmichael said that an announcement on a long term arrangement for safety cover is expected in the next two weeks.

The Liberal Democrat member of the Westminster coalition government confirmed the 11th hour decision to retain the emergency towing vessel on Wednesday afternoon.

Talks between the government and the oil industry on providing alternative safety cover for the northern region appear to be making progress.

The tugs were introduced in 2001 in response to lessons learned from the Braer tanker disaster in 1993, but were earmarked to be withdrawn as part of government cost cutting measures.

Mr Carmichael said it was very much hoped that the government would be in a position to make an announcement next week on the future arrangements for tug cover in Scotland.

“I have been fighting very hard to ensure that our shores have the appropriate level of protection and if we can achieve that with a lower cost to the tax payer then I will be well pleased,” he said.

Council convener Sandy Cluness reacted to the latest development with a word of caution saying that he had seen too many temporary arrangements over recent months.

 

“The fact remains that the protection of our shores remains a government responsibility.

“Until we know what the details of this latest arrangement are, we have based our views on the fact that these tugs were due to be withdrawn, in fact the one in the western isles has already be removed,” he said.

At the start of Wednesday’s meeting of the full council, Mr Cluness described the imminent withdrawal of the tugs as “disgraceful”.

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