Anglian Sovereign: Interim contract about to come to an end. Pic: © STV
The future of two emergency tugs covering the west of Scotland will be the subject of urgent talks between the Scottish Government and campaigners.
The Scottish Government withdrew funding for four Scottish Emergency Towing Vessels (ETVs) in September last year, in a bid to make annual savings of more than £30m.
Two of the coastguard tugs, based in the Western Isles and Shetland, were given a last-minute reprieve when they were granted an interim contract until the end of March.
Members of Western Isles Council will be among the group meeting Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland, on Thursday to discuss the future of the tugs once the contract runs out.
After six months of talks a solution has not yet been found for long-term provision of the ETVs.
Angus Campbell, Western Isles Council leader, is calling for the government to retain the ETVs until a long-term solution can be found.
He said: “With the contract extension for the ETV coming to an end, it’s disappointing that a solution for the west of Scotland has not been tabled.
“After six months of engagement, the government has come to the same conclusion that the Comhairle arrived at last year: that, unlike other parts of the UK, there is not currently a workable industry solution for the west.
“This in itself is a demonstration of market failure and in such a situation the government has a clear responsibility to intervene.
“We believe that an industry solution will emerge as the renewables industry matures, and this will happen over the course of the next five or six years.
“It is therefore essential that the UK government accept its responsibility and make a medium-term commitment to continue providing ETV coverage.”