Council call on CalMac to ease freight logjam

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has urged Cal-Mac to charter a vessel, the Pentalina, to ease freight capacity on the Stornoway/Ullapool ferry route.

Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 6:06 pm
MV Loch Seaforth is in dry dock at present for its annual overhaul procedure.

Cllr Uisdean Robertson, Chairman of Transportation and Infrastructure, said: “The expected problem of freight capacity on the Stornoway/Ullapool Route has materialised. The inclement weather has added to the problem and it appears that the weekend weather could further exacerbate this difficult situation.

“The Comhairle has made a number of suggestions to Cal-Mac on how to help make the dry-dock period of the Loch Seaforth less of a costly exercise to the community.

“The current situation is having a hugely detrimental impact on the local economy. We are sitting at the moment with a backlog of 30+ Artic loads including supermarket supplies, house kits etc. and some companies being told they can’t move certain loads until next week, as they are deemed a low priority by Cal-Mac. We now hear concerns that the aquaculture sector may be impacted as fish cannot be shipped. Hardly an ideal situation to be in in the current climate.

“The Pentalina is currently available following a period on charter to Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks in Orkney and will fit the link-spans at both Stornoway and Ullapool. Such a move would also be a positive opportunity to test the suitability of the Pentalina on west coast routes.”

CalMac Head of Operations Finlay MacRae commented: “The MV Loch Seaforth has gone into dry dock for annual maintenance and two relief vessels are providing both daytime and overnight services between Stornoway and Ullapool.

“Severe weather affected sailings on the route from Tuesday night all day Wednesday, with services only resuming at 7am today (Thursday, October 22).

“This has driven a backlog with capacity expected to affect today and tomorrow. This means that we have been unable to confirm some commercial reservations until the weekend or early next week, but this position is expected to change very soon as the backlog is addressed.”