Members of Western Isles Council are urging the government to take action to preserve their lifeline ferries.
The urgent appeal lodged by the local authority demands more to be done by government officials to implement a ferry fleet replacement programme including the introduction of dedicated vessels to service Calmac’s Harris and North Uist routes as well as a two ferry operation to service the Stornoway route.
Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Uisdean Robertson says the government must step up to insure investments are being made to the countries lifeline service.
He said: “The Comhairle has been encouraged by the open approach and sympathetic ear Ministers have given to engaging with us on ferry matters. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that the vessel replacement and renewal needs of our lifeline ferry fleet extend far beyond the two delayed ferries. We need to see real action from Government to overcome the decades long underinvestment in Scotland’s lifeline ferry fleet with orders placed at shipyards to replace all four major ferries that have already been in service for 30 years or more.
“With the imminent passing of winter, islanders should be looking forward to the summer with a sense of optimism. This is again tempered by an unease that stems from the likelihood of technical failure in the ageing fleet of ferries which we must rely on as the lifeline for our communities.”
Fury over the lack of improvements arose as a result of failings by boat builders Ferguson Marine to deliver the two ferries to replace existing Calmac vessels in the region.
The vessels were scheduled to begin service last year, however, it understood their introduction may be postponed until 2020.
This comes just two months after figures revealed more than 120 repairs have been conducted to 31 Calmac vessels since 2016.