The Missing Link Ferry Campaign has welcomed the findings of a survey which looked at the demand in the Southern Isles for a Lochboisdale to Mallaig ferry service.
Almost 1,100 people contributed to the survey, a remarkable number given the fact that the survey was conducted at short notice and within a period of a week between the 3rd an 10th of December. This huge response also re-affirms the strength of feeling in the Uists and the importance that islanders attach to the introduction of a new ferry service.
The survey, commissioned by the Hebrides Range Taskforce and conducted by Edinburgh based Scotinform Ltd, found that there was comprehensive public support for the proposed new link, with almost 90% of respondents saying that they were ‘very or quite likely’ to use the service. This demand for the new service is not just limited to South Uist - with 89% of responses from Benbecula and 63% of North Uist and Berneray contributors, also confirming that that they would also travel on the Lochboisdale to Mallaig route.
The survey also found evidence that ferry usage would increase dramatically if a Lochboisdale to Mallaig ferry service was introduced. And respondents also felt that a new service would lead to significant social and economic improvements throughout the Southern Isles.
Missing Link Group chairman Stephen MacAulay said that the survey’s findings provide a ringing endorsement for the campaign to establish a new service:
“The report’s findings provide irrefutable evidence of what we have maintained right from the beginning of this campaign - that there is overwhelming public support from throughout the Uists and beyond, for a Lochboisdale to Mallaig ferry. This survey was conducted within a very tight timescale, with people having only a week to respond. The fact that almost 1,100 people responded highlights the desire of people in the Uists for a new shorter and more frequent ferry service.”
Angus MacMillan, chair of Storas Uibhist also welcomed the survey and urged the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland to take immediate steps to act on the report’s findings:
“Storas Uibhist has long campaigned for the introduction of this service, it is now imperative that the Scottish Government respond positively to this report and that they now take steps to establish a service on the route as soon as possible in 2013. The people of the Uists have again demonstrated that there is a unquestionable need for this new service and I’d hope that the Scottish Government will now recognise this and make sure that proposals for a Lochboisdale to Mallaig service is included in their Ferries Review.”