Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is calling on the UK Government to use part of the new cash fund announced in yesterday’s Autumn Statement for Civil Resilience and Community Safety, to be used for a second Emergency Towing vessel (ETV) based on the west coast of Scotland.

Yesterday the Chancellor announced that £102 million of LIBOR fines collected from banks who break banking rules would be used to fund emergency services charities and armed forces, including emergency service personnel; children’s hospitals, air ambulances and emergency responders; and museums and memorials, over the next four years.

Comhairle Leader, Cllr Angus Campbell, said: “We have long campaigned for the reinstatement of a second ETV based on the west coast of Scotland. This is the perfect opportunity for UK Government to utilise - what would equate to less than 2% of this fund set aside for Civil Resilience and Community Safety - to protect the lives of mariners and to protect the environment. We have had numerous incidents on the west coast over recent years, the most recent of which saw the Transocean Winner oil rig coming ashore at Dalmore which could have seriously impacted marine wildlife and the coastal environment. We also have nuclear waste being transported through the Minches and other dangerous cargoes which could lead to a disaster for the west of Scotland. Surely the UK Government could spend a small amount of money on decreasing the risks.

Comhairle Convener, Cllr Norman A MacDonald, said: “Unfortunately we do not have the luxury of commercial tows here on the west coast of Scotland, as was the case where a French ETV was called to assist the Saga Sky cargo ship off Dover last week. We remain very concerned, as do colleagues in neighbouring councils, about the current situation which increases the risks for mariners and the environment and we would call upon the UK Government to use this fund to address this serious issue.”