Islanders will be able to contribute to study on ferries

The public will have the chance to put their views forward in regards to the long-term future of ferry services in the Western Isles.
The public will have the chance to put their views forward in regards to the long-term future of ferry services in the Western Isles.

Island communities will have the opportunity to have their say on ferries in the Islands, as part of a study, which will be appraising the options for the long-term (30 years) provision of services.

The study is the Outer Hebrides Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) commissioned by Transport Scotland in late 2017.

The consultants leading the study, Peter Brett Associates LLP (PBA), will be hosting public drop-in sessions at the following times and locations:

North Uist & Benbecula: Tuesday 15th May, 4 to 8pm, Carinish Hall, Carinish

South Uist & Eriskay: Wednesday 16th May, 4 to 8pm, Southend Community Hall, Daliburgh

Barra & Vatersay: Thursday 17th May, 4 to 8pm, Castlebay Community Hall

Harris: Wednesday 23rd May, 4 to 8pm, Tarbert Community Centre, Tarbert

Lewis: Thursday 24th May, 4 to 8pm, – Caladh Inn, Stornoway.

Members of the public are invited to come along, find out about the study and have an informal discussion with the team at any point between 4 and 8pm.

The undertaking of an options appraisal of ferry services to, from and within the Outer Hebrides, including the Sounds, was a commitment made in the Scottish Government’s Vessel Replacement & Deployment Plan (VRDP) annual report for 2015. At this stage of the study, the focus is on gathering views and factual information on the problems and opportunities associated with all aspects of the ferry service including (but not limited to) vessels; ports; capacity; punctuality and reliability; timetables; booking; and connecting public transport.

The team would also welcome any initial thoughts on options to be considered in the subsequent appraisal.

The public exhibition information boards will be available on the Comhairle website prior to the events.

PBA Project Manager Stephen Canning: “The early stages of this study are focused on collecting evidence of the problems and opportunities with the current ferry services to, from and within the Outer Hebrides.

“We are eager to speak with residents across the isles to ensure that we capture the full range of views on all aspects of the ferry services.

“The drop-in sessions are informal, allowing people to come along at a time of their choosing and input as they see fit to the study.

“We strongly encourage island residents to attend and share their views on the ferry services with us.”

Cllr Uisdean Robertson, Chair of the Comhairle’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee: “It is vital that Western Isles communities make their views known on the issues surrounding ferry services to, from and within the Islands. “These lifeline services not only contribute to the needs of travellers to and from the islands but are also vital for the economy and the sustainable growth of the islands.

“We have seen significant disruptions to some services this year and there is already anticipation that there will be serious capacity issues over the summer.

“It is therefore incumbent on us all to feed into this survey and to shape the future of ferry services for the islands.”