I am pleased to confirm to the House that the Scotland Office is now leading efforts to secure a long-term replacement for the emergency towing vessels (ETV) service in waters surrounding the Northern Isles and Western Isles.
It has been agreed that interim funding will be provided from the UK Government to support the service for up to three months while this work continues. The contract will be managed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and every effort will be made to ensure value-for-money for the public purse.
The Scotland Office, drawing on technical and operational advice from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Scottish stakeholders from the UK ETV working group, will lead efforts to broker a long- term replacement for the service. Time scales are tight and this work will be progressed as a matter of urgency. I will convene a meeting of a Scottish ETV working group on Monday 17 October, comprising representatives of Highlands and Islands local authorities. Marine Scotland, KIMO (Kommunenes Internasjonale Miljøorganisasjon) and other interested parties. An announcement will be made by the end of the year notifying the House of the outcome of this work.