Tuesday, 2 November 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
283. Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he will request funding in budget 2005 for an ocean-going rescue and salvage tug with a large towing capability following the recent Chicoutimi tragedy and in view of the ongoing danger to coastlines here from oil tankers and nuclear submarines. [26863/04]
Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources (Mr. Gallagher): The feasibility of deploying emergency towing vessels, or ETVs, in Irish waters is still under consideration. In 1998 the then Department of the Marine and Natural Resources commissioned a study to investigate the feasibility of deploying ETVs around the coast. Following an assessment of the study, which was published in 1999, it was decided that Ireland should have access to ETV capacity to protect the coast from the consequences of major oil pollution and vessel stranding; the Department would consult with the Departments of Finance, Defence and the Environment, Heritage and Local Government on cost-effectiveness, location, financing, operational aspects, possible other uses etc.; and Ireland and the UK would consult on the possible sharing of an ETV to cover the east coast.
The Department set up an internal working group to manage the consultation process referred to above and to progress the matter generally. The likely significant costs associated with the provision of ETV capability and complex operational requirements were recognised. The working group concluded that an ETV capacity be provided to service the west coast via a public private partnership process and an ETV for the east coast provided to ensure an acceptable level of cover at minimum cost, including if possible on a joint PPP approach with the UK for the Irish Sea. The Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources is currently examining how these proposals can be pursued.
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