Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil joined the Comhairle in campaigning for a second emergency towing vessel (EVT) to be stations on the west coast of Scotland.

As with the local authority, Mr MacNeil welcomed the announcement made yesterday that following a review by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), the emergency tug at Orkney will remain in place and be funded for a further five years.

But the SNP MP said he will continue to press for reinstatement of a second vessel to be based at Stornoway.

Mr MacNeil said: “I am very glad that the UK Transport Minister Robert Goodwill has listened and has u-turned on plans to discontinue funding for the Orkney vessel.

“However we are still a vessel down and I will continue to press the UK Government to listen to the real concerns expressed about lack of cover for the West Coast and to reinstate a vessel based in Stornoway.”

He continued: “Mr Goodwill has concluded that the operational experience of the last five years has shown that a single vessel is sufficient to meet the needs for emergency towage and that a second ETV cannot be justified by the updated risk assessment.

“I would say to him that the risks are still the same as they were prior to 2011 and the fact is that it would take many hours for an ETV to steam from Orkney to some parts of the west coast in the event of an emergency situation, and the reality is that this could be too late.”

Mr MacNeil added: “The UK Government are taking a cost cutting risk and have no insurance policy against a situation like the Braer disaster which might happen once in 25 years, once in 50 years, or once in 100 years, but would have a devastating impact on the Scottish coastline.”

Yesterday the Comhairle called for the provision of a second ETV vessel to cover the west coast of Scotland.

Council Leader Angus Campbell said: “We remain very concerned, as do colleagues in neighbouring councils, about the current situation which increases the risks for mariners and the environment.

“The MCA themselves concluded that the commercial towage market cannot reliably meet the need for a dedicated service to cover the seas around Scotland and this is particularly so off the west coast.

“I believe that the number of incidents over the past few years highlight the very serious risks around our coastal waters,” he continued, adding: “There have been several occasions over the years when the north based tug has not been used for incidents off the west coast, which contradicts what had previously been agreed on the service and poses the question of whether it is to be used for incidents off the west coast.

“We will continue to campaign for adequate provision of ETVs in Scottish waters.”