The provision for Emergency Towing Vehicles should be reviewed immediately and extended beyond March 2016, Richard Lochhead said during the recent national marine plan debate.
This call comes as a result of the recent sinking of the Cemfjord and the grounding of a large cargo ship Lysblink Seaways at Ardnamurchan Point.
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. The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that the development of Scotland’s seas stay within environmental limits, which is why we have developed this plan. The plan outlines the Government’s vision for the sustainable development and use of the marine environment. It provides clarity and flexibility to developers and decision makers on Scotland’s priorities for sustainable use of the sea.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment, Richard Lochhead said:
“Scotland’s rich seas are of huge economic and environmental importance. The seas bring a vast array of benefits not only in terms of the importance of scenery and wildlife – but also the economic gains through industry, the contribution to food and energy security and the provision of a wide range of goods and services. Protection of our marine environment is at the heart of Scotland’s first national marine plan.
“Over the past few months alone there has 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. It is unacceptable that we have only one emergency towing vessel to cover the whole of the country. The UK Government cannot be allowed to gamble on Scotland’s marine environment.
“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.
“We have a responsibility to ensure that our seas are well managed now and into the future, so that a full range of benefits continue to flow to the people of Scotland.
“This is why the National Marine Plan is so important, it will put in place a single integrated framework which provides clarity but also allows for flexibility and adaptation when managing our seas.
“The plan been developed in conjunction with stakeholders across Scotland and received widespread support during the consultation.
“I’m confident the plan strikes a fair balance between the economic, environmental and social interests in our seas.”