Solway Harvester to stay on island

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THE removal of the ill-fated Solway Harvester from Douglas Harbour on the Isle of Man could be a long way off yet, the Manx government was told this week.

At the June sitting of the island’s government, the Tynwald, it was heard that there was an obligation to the families of the crew who died on the vessel in 2000.

The island’s infrastructure minister Phil Gawne admitted that the trawler’s rusting hulk would remain in Douglas harbour pending the outcome of legal action by the families of the Machars victims who lost their lives aboard the vessel in January 2000.

The Kirkcudbright-registered scallop dredger capsized in a fierce storm off the coast of the Isle of Man with the loss of its entire seven-man crew.

It was salvaged and raised in a £1 million operation funded by the Manx Government and has been moored in Douglas harbour ever since.

The families of the victims of the disaster have been embroiled in a battle for compensation against the owners of the vessel for nearly a decade.

In the Keys, Peter Karran asked Mr Gawne what his department’s plans for the Solway Harvester were. He described the wreck as an ‘eyesore’ and questioned how much the on-going costs were of keeping it in the harbour.

The minister replied that there was a protracted legal action still being pursued by the families.

He said: “Unfortunately I can’t give you any timescale (for its removal) because of protracted legal matters that are complex.”

Mr Gawne said his department did write to the families from time to time to ask if there was any likelihood of a conclusion to their legal action.

But he added: “I don’t think it appropriate to put too much pressure on the families.”

The minister said the costs of keeping the wreck in the harbour were ‘not significant’.

He said his department had looked at locating the vessel elsewhere, including in the UK and Ireland – but because the boat was not seaworthy, it was unlikely anywhere would take it and the costs would be considerably higher.