MSP achieves ferry fare concession

WESTERN Isles MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the decision by the Transport Minister, Keith Brown, to allow transporters of live shellfish and hay to make return ferry journeys to and from the Western Isles for the price of a one way ticket if vehicles are empty on one leg of the journey.

Dr Allan commented: “Since 2008, when fare structures were changed, transporters of live shellfish and also companies carrying hay have no longer qualified to have their return journeys charged as single fares when one leg of the journey is undertaken with the vehicle empty.

“I believe that these previous discounts recognised the specific contribution made to the island economy by fishing and crofting, and acknowledged the fact that these companies have little choice but to operate in this way.

“This is an issue which I have raised in the past with the Transport Minister, and most recently by phone on Friday. I am pleased to say the Government has now agreed to only charge one way tickets when vehicles are empty on return journeys.

“While it is possible that harbour dues may be charged on the unladen leg of the journey, that will, I hope, now be the only cost.

“This is something which I believe is fair and of direct benefit to both the fishing and crofting economies in the islands.

“ It is something that has long been called for, and the decision of the Transport Minister to make these arrangements available is a highly positive one for these industries.”