COMHAIRLE CALL FOR URGENT ACTION ON FERRY REPLACMENT
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has called for urgent action on a ferry fleet replacement programme. Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Uisdean Robertson said:
‘The Comhairle has been encouraged by the open approach and sympathetic ear Ministers have given to engaging with us on ferry matters but we need to see real action from Government to overcome the decades long underinvestment in Scotland’s lifeline ferry fleet with orders placed at shipyards to replace all four major ferries that have already been in service for 30 years or more.
‘With the imminent passing of winter, islanders should be looking forward to the summer with a sense of optimism. This is again tempered by an unease that stems from the likelihood of technical failure in the ageing fleet of ferries which we must rely on as the lifeline for our communities.’
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar wrote to the Islands Minister late last year following the positive discussion he had with business and community representatives at the ferry summit in Uist in November. The Comhairle set out a range of measures to improve reliability and resilience on the crossings to and within the Western Isles in the short, medium and long term.
The success of RET means the fleet size needs to increase by one if not two new major ferries. This would provide a dedicated ferry to both Harris and North Uist and the Stornoway route should be stepped up to a two ferry operation.