The need for Emergency Towing Vessels (ETVs) as a preventative measure has arisen since the number of commercial salvage tugs has reduced while potential danger from individual vessels has increased. Modern vessels are much bigger than in the past and can carry large cargoes of dangerous and hazardous materials and fuel.
KIMO believes that ETVs provide essential risk mitigation in the protection of our coastlines from pollution arising from maritime incidents. The cost of maintaining ETVs will be repaid many times over if they are successful in preventing just a single vessel disablement becoming a major environmental disaster.
After the tanker Braer spilled 85,000 tonnes of oil off the coast of Shetland in January 1993, and following the publication of Lord Donaldson’s report ‘Safer Ships, Cleaner Seas’, the UK Government deployed four ETVs around its coastline as part of a range of measures to reduce risks to an acceptable level. In September 2011 this was reduced to just one ETV for a fixed period of 90 days, stationed in Kirkwall on the Orkney Islands. Intense lobbying by KIMO and local authorities resulted in the vessel being funded until the end of the UK government spending review (March 2015). The review concluded that retention of the vessel “was not a spending priority”, signalling its removal as of March 2016.
Further intense lobbying by KIMO, Orkney, Shetland and Highlands Councils, and Highlands and Islands MPs and MSPs throughout 2015 resulted in a series of meetings with stakeholders in March
2016 to explore arrangements and funding to address the issue. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency was urged to press for an extension to the contract which was granted until September 2016.
KIMO welcomes the news today that the UK government will meet the cost of continuing provision of the Orkney-based ETV. The UK Government’s Maritime andCoastguard Agency’s own risk assessment confirms that ETV provision provides a valuable safety and counter-pollution measure. KIMO believes that a minimum of two fully-funded vessel of suitable capability are required to provide adequate protection to Scottish coastlines, particularly in light of the ongoing transport of exotic fuels from
Dounreay to Sellafield and the planned transport of nuclear waste from Dounreay to the United States, which further increase the risk of a major pollution incident.
For more information see www.kimointernational.org or contact:
Arabelle Bentley, KIMO International Secretariat
firstname.lastname@example.org +44 1595 744807
Notes to editors:
KIMO International (Local Government International Environmental Organisation) is
an association of more than 70 local authorities representing 7 million citizens across
seven countries with a Northern Seas coastline. Its aim is to protect, preserve and
enhance Northern Europe’s marine environment and to work for safe and pollution
free seas and coastlines for the benefit of our citizens. KIMO’s headquarters are
located in Lerwick, Shetland.