One towing vessel not enough, says minister

EMERGENCY Towing Vehicle provision should be reviewed immediately and extended beyond March 2016, said Scotland’s environment minister, in the wake of the grounding of the cargo ship Lysblink Seaways at Ardnamurchan Point.
During a national marine plan debate at Holyrood, Richard Lochhead said the UK government must reassure maritime industries that emergency tug provision is available across Scotland’s waters, including the Western Isles and the west coast of Scotland.
Marine industries bring approximately £18 billion into the Scottish economy and there must be adequate provision to protect these interests and the marine environment itself.
It is unacceptable, the minister said, that ‘we have only one emergency towing vessel to cover the whole of the country’.
‘Over the past few months alone there have been three major incidents involving vessels in our waters – most recently the grounding of a large cargo ship this week near Ardnamurchan Point, illustrating the need to give our utmost protection to the marine environment.
‘Our seas are vast, we have six times more water than land in Scotland, and unfortunately incidents do happen.
‘This is why today I will write to seek early discussions on the immediate review and call of the UK government to extend funding for Emergency Towing Vessels beyond March 2016.’