Radioactive Concrete Cargo Incident Near Wick
8th October 2014
Council renews call for permanent reinstatement of ETVs.
Leader of The Highland Council, Councillor Drew Hendry has renewed The Highland Council's call to permanently retain and reinstate previous levels of emergency towing vehicles (ETVs) covering the Minch and Northern Isles.
This call comes in light of the current incident involving the MV Parida which was transporting a cargo of radioactive concrete waste from Scrabster to Antwerp when a fire on board caused a loss of power and left the vessel drifting 20 miles off Wick. The fire was extinguished, however due to the direction of the drifting vessel; the Beatrice oil platform was evacuated and shut down as a precaution. The MV Parida was subsequently towed to the narrows of the Cromarty Firth.
The Highland Council's programme for 2012 - 2017 has a commitment to: ‘work with the Scottish Government to press the UK Government for the same level of protection as previously provided by two emergency towing vehicles covering the Minch and Northern Isles.'
The Highland Council has previously lobbied the UK Government hard for the permanent reinstatement of two ETVs, however the UK Government only agreed to fund one ETV which is currently based in Orkney and is funded until March, 2016. This means there is no emergency coverage for the west coast, particularly the Minch. There is a commercial arrangement with Oil and Gas to provide a vessel in the North Sea. There is no Government Funded ETV on the west coast and there are no commercial options.
Councillor Hendry said: "This incident clearly raises the importance of our campaign to reinstate permanently 2 vessels to cover the west coast as well as the east coast. Having spoken with the Leaders of all the groups of The Highland Council, we are united in our demand that action is taken to protect all of our coastlines.
"Without the basing of an ETV on the west coast there continues to be a real risk for ships and potential catastrophic environmental damage that could be caused from an incident, especially given the steaming time to get an ETV from Orkney to the Minches. The situation is even more serious for the west coast given the intention of the Nulcear Decomissioning Authority to start shipping cargoes of spent nuclear material from Dounreay around the north coastline, down the Minches to Cumbria.
"If these proposals are implemented, it is imperative that adequate safety measures are put in place, including the dedicated basing of an ETV to respond to any incidents along the Pentland Firth and the Minches. As shown today accidents can happen and even the most resilient and capable of vessels can lose power.
"The potential for a vessel carrying nuclear material fuel to have an accident in the Minches presents a significant risk. Under current arrangements, there would be no assistance available for several hours. The prospect of a serious accident occurring and the consequences for the communities and the environment cannot be ignored.
"Working with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, I will be writing to the Scottish Government to ask for their support in taking our campaign forward and once again will be insisting that the UK Government commit to a permanent 2-vessel solution."
Recent outcomes of Redesign work were noted by Members at yesterday's Highland Council meeting. In the first year of the programme, 8 redesign projects were undertaken using a "Lean" approach and 36 staff have been trained as facilitators.
Motorists are being advised that The Highland Council is currently preparing to carry out resurfacing works at the following locations: • B862 Fort Augustus - Whitebridge - Torness - Dores – Inverness Road; specifically at Errogie Village (North Gateway), Errogie Village (South Gateway), and Compass Farm; and • B851 Errogie – Strathnairn – Daviot Bridge – Culloden Moor Road; specifically at Aberarder House. Advanced works notification signage will be provided at various locations from Thursday 15 March 2018.
The Highland Council has agreed a capital programme of £482m over the next 5 years. The Highland Council serves the largest geographical area in Scotland (over 30%) and has just under £2bn of assets on its balance sheet comprising, amongst other things, 203 operational schools, over 6,700km of roads and over 2,000 properties.
The Highland Council's Enforcement Officers have stepped up patrols in Caithness in a move to tackle the problem of littering, fly tipping and dog fouling. A number of fixed penalty notices have been issued recently including an £80 fine for dog fouling in the Stafford Lane and Back Bridge area of Wick, a £200 fine for fly-tipping on Ackergill Street and another £80 fine for dog fouling in Lybster.
Speaking ahead of today's Council meeting to agree the Council's Capital Programme for 2018/19 to 2022/23, Cllr Margaret Davidson, Leader of the Highland Council said:- "This programme delivers significant investment in a range of key projects across the Highlands. We are investing in schools, roads, bridges, harbours and flood prevention schemes that will benefit our communities.
Highland Council is to make a special case for extra capital investment in the road infrastructure after a winter period which has seen the Highlands battered by some 57 days of severe weather. Highland Council area is particularly subject to severe winter weather, which has a significant impact on the roads and other infrastructure.
Maps of the Council's gritting routes by priority and policy are available online at www.highland.gov.uk/gritting. The information provided is a summary of reports from operational staff and is intended to give a general indication of typical conditions in each area at a point in time.
The £48.5m Wick Community Campus built by Morrison Construction has been announced as a finalist at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2018. The project is entered in the category for "Excellence in Planning for a Successful Economy" against eight other finalists from across the UK with the winner to be announced during a ceremony at Milton Court Concert Hall on 24 May 2018.
A Partnership for Procurement event was held in Inverness today (Thursday 6 March) to raise awareness and the capability of the third sector to successfully bid, supply and deliver services for the public sector. Partnership for Procurement (P4P) is a new initiative funded through the Scottish Government's 10 Year Social Enterprise Strategy; supporting social enterprises and third sector organisations to better access public contracts and build partnerships.
Across the Northern Alliance local authorities an exciting project has been rolled out to raise attainment in literacy, language and communication. The programme is being delivered in around 50% of primary schools across the Northern Alliance and is aimed at supporting practitioners to take a developmental approach to supporting early literacy development.
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