Transport Minister to be alerted to increasing concerns over ferry capacity

Following a meeting with Keith Brown and Transport Scotland on 12 June and after a full debate at CNES Transport and Infrastructure committee this week, the Comhairle has agreed that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Leader, Cllr Angus Campbell, and Chair of Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr John Mackay, will write to the Transport Minister about concerns over the forecasted lack of capacity on ferry services to the islands.

After further discussions at a meeting of the Outer Hebrides Ferry Users Group and the Hebrides Ferry Users Group today (Thursday) the letter will also ask that a meeting involving all major stakeholders be convened, as a matter of urgency, to enable the Minister to personally receive the views and concerns of the relevant sectors in the Western Isles.

Councillor John Mackay, Chair of Transportation and Infrastructure at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “We are forecasting increasing demand on the Stornoway to Ullapool route, and the introduction of the new vessel under the proposed operating procedures will severely restrict economic growth.

“We feel that ferry services to the islands are completely inadequate to meet demand at a time when the numbers of visitors to the islands are projected to increase, particularly with prestigious events such as the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup being held in Scotland this summer.”

Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Cllr Angus Campbell, added: “We have voiced our concerns on numerous occasions about a forecasted lack of capacity on ferry services between Stornoway and Ullapool following the introduction of the MV Loch Seaforth and the discontinuation of the combination of the MV Isle of Lewis and the MV Clipper Ranger, in particular during the summer months.

“We feel that more needs to be done to secure an additional vessel to augment the capacity of the MV Loch Seaforth, and we hope that the Transport Minister sees it fit to bring all major shareholders round one table to discuss these issues.”