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Council wants emergency tug guarantee

The Herakles is usually based at Orkney.

SHETLAND Islands Council is calling on the UK government to guarantee the future provision of emergency towing vessels (ETV) in the northern isles.

Funding for the Herakles, currently stationed in Orkney, is only in place until March 2016 and there appear to be no plans to continue that essential cover beyond that date.

In a letter to the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, council leader Gary Robinson said it was unacceptable that the already limited provision of such vessels should come to an end.

The number of emergency tug was reduced to just one in 2010
following the government’s spending review.

Robinson said: “I will be meeting with the Secretary of State next month, and this issue will be very high on the agenda.

“There’s been a marked increase in shipping around our shores in recent years due to the presence of the oil and gas industry – and Shetland now has a seafood industry worth £300 million a year to the local economy.

“It’s simply unacceptable that we should be left without such essential protection in an area which can have such hostile weather conditions.

“It took years of lobbying to get an emergency tug based here following the loss of the Braer, and it is unthinkable that that cover could now be removed.”