The Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore described the first meeting of the Scottish Emergency Towing Vessel Group in Edinburgh this afternoon as “a positive step in the right direction”.
He was speaking after chairing the group which is investigating potential long-term solutions for emergency towing cover in waters around the Northern and Western Isles. The original contract ended a fortnight ago and the UK Government announced it had secured interim funding for three months to cover the ETVs. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) awarded the new 90-day contract to JP Knight last Friday. The tugs were back on station at the weekend.
The Scottish ETV Group saw representatives of Shetland, Orkney, Highland and the Western Isles Councils as well as the MCA, Department for Transport, Marine Scotland, KIMO and the Chamber of Shipping discuss the outline approach to the issue. The Scotland Office Minister David Mundell also attended.
Michael Moore said: “This was a practical and constructive first meeting. We are determined to do everything we can to find a viable, long term alternative. Our discussions today were focused on what Scotland needs from its ETVs and what the options may be in finding a long-term replacement. We worked well across a wide range of interests and I am confident we can put the huge level of expertise and experience represented on the Group to good work.”
The Convener of Orkney Council Stephen Hagan welcomed today’s meeting on behalf of the Group. He commented: “We are pleased that the Government is looking for a long-term solution and we are happy to play our part to work towards that. We are hopeful that we can reach an outcome that is mutually acceptable.”