Option for North Uist ferry service to Dunvegan?

Options should be looked at for services from Lochmaddy.
Options should be looked at for services from Lochmaddy.

The North Uist Development Company (NUDC) and North Uist and Berneray Community Councils have written to Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan to ask him to relay their concerns about ferry provision to North Uist to the Transport and Islands Minister Derek MacKay.

They are calling for consultation with the community on the plans for a new ferry for the Uig-Lochmaddy-Tarbert triangle and for an independent study to be carried out on the ferry provision.

In the letter they state that capacity issues are impeding tourism development on the island and that a dedicated ferry for both North Uist and another for Harris would improve frequency on both routes.

They add: “The commissioning of every other new ferry to the islands in recent years has brought with it a programme of infrastructure works to support an improved service.

“We would suggest that there would be a strategic benefit to be gained from looking at Dunvegan as the dedicated deep water port for Lochmaddy sailings.”

They point out that this would reduce the crossing distance from 25 to 18 miles and also make savings on fuel and a carbon footprint.

“It would also enable Uig to retain its role as a busy port serving sailings to Harris,” they said adding that new breakwaters and the location of the Lochmaddy pier itself should be looked at.

They are also asking for improved community input on developing the timetable as well as earlier publication of summer timetables to assist visitors and tourism providers in particular.

They conclude: “We feel that a review conducted at the highest level, of which the upcoming consultations should be viewed as just the first part, is the best way forward to ensure a fit-for-purpose ferry solution for our islands.”

Transport Minister Derek MacKay and Tom Docherty from CMAL are due to visit Uist in the coming weeks which has been welcomed by the NUDC ansd the Community Councils.