Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has called on Cal-Mac to work together and consider the needs of islands and the islands economy.
The call comes as Cal-Mac are putting the Heb Isles on the freight run for Stornoway-Ullapool whilst the Seaforth is in dry dock. The Comhairle is proposing that it should be the Isle of Lewis doing the freight run and the Heb Isles doing the passenger route.
Leader of CNES, Roddie Mackay, said: “Once again Cal-Mac are doing what suits them rather than what is in the best interests of the Islands. The proposed two run freight service still has only half the capacity of the required trailer load. People plan their businesses around scheduled freight services. The high handed disregard for service users is appalling.
The First Minster at the start of this pandemic said the protection of freight services to these Islands was the priority. This remains the case yet Calmac have decided to be driven by the needs of leisure travel rather than freight in their latest moves.
Calmac are removing the Loch Seaforth with capacity for 20 artic loads and replacing it with the Hebridean Isles with a capacity of 5 artic loads. Even with two overnight freight runs they only provide half of what they are removing. Both the Isle of Lewis (15 artic loads) and the Hebridean Isles are available during the dry dock period so the obvious thing to do is to have the Isle of Lewis do the freight run and the Hebridean Isles do one of the day runs.
These are simple solutions which meet Island needs, after all these are the islands they are meant to service, yet they choose an option which perhaps suits Calmac, but certainly not our islands and we call on them to address this immediately for the dry dock situation this month.”