WESTERN Isles fishermen have welcomed suggestions that the Transocean Winner rig should be decommissioned in Lewis where it ran aground.

Councillor Angus Campbell, leader of the Western Isles local authority, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, also backed calls from local residents for the rig to be scrapped on the islands to boost the economy and jobs.

The drilling rig was destined for a yard in Turkey to be decommissioned when a towline broke and it ran aground on Lewis.

It is now temporarily anchored in the island’s Broad Bay where divers will inspect the structure for damage.

Duncan Craigard, of the Western Isles Fishermen’s Association, said he was happy with reassurances that there would be no contamination of live shellfish in the area and said a move to decommission the rig in Lewis would have no negative impact on fishing.

He added: “I would welcome this because it would offer a good opportunity for those who have been laid off in the oil industry and it would give added benefits to the local economy.

“If it was going to be decommissioned in Lewis it would have to be towed into Arnish, contained within the Stornoway harbour area, and there would be no negative impact whatsoever on the fishing industry.”

Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of State’s representative for maritime salvage and intervention, who is overseeing the salvage operation, said a decision on the final destination of the rig has still to be made.

In his letter to Transocean, Campbell said: “We are pleased that you continue to engage with the local supply chain and, given the significant and positive economic impact to the islands, would now ask that serious consideration be given to the use of local facilities and engineering expertise in carrying out the repairs.

“We would be very happy to work with Transocean, Smit Salvage and other relevant key stakeholders to ensure that direct and indirect benefits are, as much as possible, retained in the islands.”