Uist firms face 30% hit from Uig closure

Intense concern has been created in Uist due to CalMac indicating that 30 per cent of freight capacity will be lost during the six months loss of the Uig link with the Lochmaddy service diverted to Ullapool.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 14th April 2022, 10:22 am
Updated Thursday, 14th April 2022, 10:22 am
Uig pier will be closed for six months over the winter for upgrade work.
Uig pier will be closed for six months over the winter for upgrade work.

At meetings last week, CalMac officials admitted this was the likely level of disruption even with a contribution from the Lord of the Isles, which will do extra sailings between Mallaig and Lochboisdale.

The prospect was described by one business owner as “the biggest threat yet to our viability. We simply cannot operate with that degree of uncertainty – a third less animal feedstuffs, a third less builders’ supplies, a third less goods for the shops.

“We now know from the horse’s mouth that this is what is staring us in the face in a few months time – and all for a ferry that doesn’t even exist”.

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Uisdean Robertson, who chaired Comhairle nan Eilean’s transportation committee until the pause for elections, has written to Scottish Government ministers stressing the extreme concern in Uist about this aspect of the “Uig closure” plans, as well as others about timetabling which affect both Uist and Harris.

He feared that the 30 per cent figure could be even worse if the CalMac fleet, and particularly the Lord of the Isles, proved as unreliable as in the recent past.

He raised these issues when he met the recently-appointed SNP Transport Minister, Jenny Gilruth, in Tarbert last week.

She also met Uist community councils and the Harris Transport Group along with officials.

Island haulier Gail Robertson said: “It’s going to affect all the businesses in Uist and it is hard to see how it can be dealt with unless other options are considered”.

She said nothing had changed in CalMac’s plans since they were first put forward in December.

The closure of Uig harbour, owned by Highland Council, for a period now estimated at six months from October is to allow for the introduction of a new linkspan to accommodate one of the long-delayed vessels at the Ferguson yard.