View Full Version : Transport Committee calls for u-turn on tug proposals

23-Jun-11, 12:29
Council welcomes breakthrough in tug campaign

HIGHLAND COUNCIL has welcomed the finding of a UK Government Transport Committee Inquiry which calls on the Government to withdraw its controversial proposals to modernise the Coastguard Service and review its decision to withdraw funding for the four emergency towing vessels stationed around the coast, including tugs at Stornoway and Lerwick.
Leader Councillor Michael Foxley and TEC Services Chairman Councillor John Laing have strongly and persistently argued that the Government’s proposals are flawed and believe the compelling findings of the cross-party committee must be taken on board without qualification.
Councillor Foxley recently gave evidence to the Transport Committee, focusing on the future of emergency towing vessels.
He highlighted that commercial alternatives with similar capability to the tugs were not available in the Highlands and Islands and advocated that the UK Government should develop an alternative funding model by exploiting a number of income generating initiatives.
On the future of the Coastguard Service, he said the Council fully accepted the need to modernise and develop the Coastguard Service but it should be done on the basis of enhancing the level of service provided not reducing it and potentially putting lives at risk.
He said: “The findings of the Transport Committee are a tremendous boost for the united front we have presented to the UK Government. It is vital that these compelling recommendations are heeded by the Government. I could not agree more with the comments of the Committee Chairman, Louise Ellman who said that to withdraw funding for the ETVs is unwise, short-sighted and is inviting disaster for our coastal communities and the marine environment.”
Councillor Laing added: “It is absolutely essential that we have adequate cover off our shores, given the likely increase in developments in the oil and gas fields and an increase in the use of marine renewables. The UK Government would be risking the safety of people at sea if they did not take on board the recommendations of the Transport Committee.”