Proposals to incorporate a commercial tour boat into the 999 coverage for part of Highland Perthshire could save lives, it has been claimed.
Loch Tay Safaris operates the largest boat on Loch Tay, an area with notoriously poor mobile phone coverage.
Locals have put forward the idea of using the craft and its on-board radio to improve safety coverage in the area, a move that has already been given the seal of approval by the local community council.
The boat has the capacity to carry 12 passengers and can get from one end of the 15-mile loch to the other in around 20 minutes.
Donald Riddell, who owns Loch Tay Safaris, said that if they could help without leaving customers in the lurch then they would be willing to do so.
“We’ve been asked to look into it — we’ve managed to have a meeting with the mountain rescue, who have put us in touch with the policing unit which covers Loch Tay,” he said.
“We already provide a bit of resilience for the mountain rescue so we are certainly willing to do it, as any good community-minded person would do. As far as I am aware, there isn’t any safety cover on the loch at the moment.
“Our boat has an immense amount of capability compared to any other boat on the loch. It’s the biggest and fastest boat on the loch, and it’s got radar, depth sounder, chart plotter, communications — our marine radio connects back to base, so we can cover the whole loch.
“In a Highland setting phones don’t work a lot of the time, so having a radio which can be used from 15 miles away is quite important.
“If it happens I’d hope it would save lives. Being on-site with good equipment, which can get to somebody in distress fast, would be a huge benefit to the local community and people on the loch.”
The proposition has been welcomed by local councillor Mike Williamson.
He said: “I think it’s an excellent idea — there’s an awful lot of activities that go on on Loch Tay. The community has been looking for an emergency boat for a number of years and this ticks a lot of boxes.
“The fire service keeps its kit in Perth but if someone goes missing on the loch then speed is of the essence and having an asset based on the loch could save lives.”