CNES Responds to Ferry Announcement

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has responded to the announcement in the Scottish Parliament this week that Scottish Ministers have taken action to ensure the completion of two ferries by Ferguson Marine following a due diligence assessment carried out on forecast costs.

In an update to parliament, Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray re-affirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment to supporting the completion of the vessels, which remains the quickest way of introducing new lifeline connectivity for island communities, confirming that a Ministerial Written Authority was issued in order to enable work on vessel 802 to continue. This Authority recognised that even at this late stage it would be cheaper to scrap the ship and procure an entirely new vessel. 

Responding to the parliamentary statement Cllr Uisdean Robertson, Chair of Transportation and Infrastructure, said: “Under the circumstances I would support the Ministerial direction to complete vessel 802 as our communities in Uist and Harris have been left with insufficient capacity on the routes that this vessel should have served for the last 5 years. At this point in time this is the least, worst option and we must get this vessel and MV Glen Sannox into service.

“However, I cannot understand why similar consideration of the opportunity to scrap 802 and begin again at another yard was not looked at under the same value for money assessment when Ferguson Marine was nationalised in 2019.  Had this happened at that time the cost to the taxpayer would have been much reduced and our islands could have seen new tonnage in place by 2022. 

“Instead, the cost has been passed on to island communities for what will be years of delay in getting the new vessel in service.  The Comhairle has called on Government to recognise this cost by providing support for business continuation to compensate those businesses whose very viability is threatened by the Government failure to deliver new ferries.  Government rightly acted quickly in response to COVID 19, but the impact of this crisis which has been visited on our islands by this debacle has similar damaging consequences. We look for comparable intervention to support our communities”.