MSP Alasdair Allan has reiterated calls for the reinstatement of a dedicated emergency
towing vessel (ETV) for the west coast of Scotland, following the near-grounding
of a cargo vessel off the Western Isles.
Yesterday evening the cargo vessel Fame lost power off the west coast of Lewis and
it was believed she was very likely to ground on either Harris or North Uist.
When the coastguard tug based in Orkney was quickly dispatched it was estimated to
take 14 hours before she would arrive at the scene.
Alasdair Allan commented: “After the Transocean Winner oil rig washed up on the beach
of Dalmore last year we were told there was still not a case for an additional ETV
based on the west coast, and that the Orkney-based ETV would be undertaking regular
patrols to the Western Isles instead. Last night’s incident shows this is not good
enough to protect our coast.
“We should all be incredibly grateful for the dedication and skill of the Leverburgh
lifeboat crew, who arrived promptly on the scene. However, we are very lucky that
last night’s incident did not end with the grounding of a vessel on our shores and
this needs to be taken seriously.
“If we look to Europe for a comparison, Germany with a coastline of 2,389km Germany
has eight emergency towing vessels while the UK Government has left Scotland with
just one, despite our coastline of 18,672km.
“I once again call upon the UK Government to live up to its maritime safety obligations
and reinstate a dedicated ETV for the west coast of Scotland.”
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar leader, Roddie Mackay, also called for a tug to be based
on the west coast.
Cllr Mackay said: “Last night we had an incident off the west coast which could have
seriously impacted marine wildlife and the coastal environment.
“These incidents are all too frequent and we remain very concerned, as do colleagues
in neighbouring councils, about the current situation which increases the risks for
mariners and the environment.
“We will once again be making the case to the UK Government for a second ETV based
on the west coast to address this serious issue.
“We are also raising the matter of deployment of the ETV with the MCA as the lifeboats
from Leverburgh and Stornoway have had to assist the freight ship until the ETV from
Orkney arrives more than 12 hours later. It is unacceptable.”
Calls to reinstate coastguard tug after ship near-grounding