The SNP has called for clarity from UK Ministers on where an emergency tug boat service will be stationed after the Scotland Office confirmed in a statement today (Tuesday) that funding will be provided for a single tug boat to patrol Scottish waters.

In 2010, and without undertaking any risk assessment, the UK Government announced its decision to stop funds for the two boats that covered Scotland’s near 10,000km of coastline. Scotland Secretary Michael Moore has now announced another UK u-turn with Ministers now willing to fund a reduced emergency towing vessel service up to 2015.

SNP Westminster Transport spokesperson Angus MacNeil, who has led calls for a rethink, said:

“After two years of uncertainty the UK Government have at last u-turned on the future of these emergency tug services. While welcoming this commitment to continue funding a single patrol, this is clearly half the service we had previously to serve Scotland’s near 10,000km of coastline.

“This has been a classic Westminster farce from beginning to end, and we still need answers over where this service will be stationed.

“If the UK Government had listened to the warnings from the sector, campaigners and even the Commons Transport Select Committee, all this uncertainty could have been avoided.

“With the temporary contract being paid to provide an  interim service, there are also questions over how much this whole saga has cost the taxpayer.

“The UK Government attempted to scrap this vital service without putting any alternative in place. These cuts would have put lives at risk and seriously hampered Scotland’s ability to deal with emergency situations, particularly in relation to the Oil and Gas sector.

“From small issues like pasties to big issues like the future of emergency towing vessels in our waters, the UK Government is making really bad decisions. We should make better decisions in Scotland and not leave it to Westminster.”