Comhairle Welcomes Community Engagement on Outer Hebrides Ferry Services

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed a new round of stakeholder engagement and consultation on ferry services affecting the Outer Hebrides.

At next week’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Brian Fulton, Director of Community and Stakeholder Engagement, will provide the Comhairle with an update on matters associated with the arrangements for stakeholder engagement and consultation to be implemented by CalMac Ferries Ltd., in particular the establishment of a Community Board.

Cllr Uisdean Robertson, Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said: "We warmly welcome this new consultation and stakeholder engagement on ferry services affecting us here in the Western Isles. These are lifeline services which are of huge importance to our economy and it is vitally important that people share their views.

As the Summer progressed, the ferry capacity issues in the Outer Hebrides became increasingly acute. The Comhairle has long been of the view that the present ferry operation to the Outer Hebrides are not providing sufficient capacity during increasing peak periods to service the needs of the community.

The Comhairle would once again call on the Scottish Government to provide a second vessel on the Stornoway Ullapool route. In the next couple of months, people will be looking to book ahead for next summer and the current lack of capacity is impacting on the lifeline nature of the service and is an increasing inhibitor to economic growth and population retention.

Whilst we welcome the prioritisation by Transport Scotland of a larger replacement vessel for the Triangle route, we continue to be of the view that the current and continuing capacity issues on that specific route can only be fully resolved by the provision of separate vessels serving North Uist and Harris. We are pleased that Transport Scotland have now recognised and accepted that there are already very real capacity constraints on certain routes to and within the Outer Hebrides and the impact they are having; the Comhairle will continue to work with Transport Scotland and other key stakeholders in the identification and appraisal of the options for improvement."