Alex Cole-Hamilton is to set out his vision for connecting rural Scotland with new bridges and tunnels, from the heart of the Highlands to the far north in Shetland.
At the UK Lib Dem conference, the party’s Scottish leader will warn that the SNP has severely let down islanders who depend on unreliable ferry services.
In his address to party members on Sunday, Mr Cole-Hamilton will again back calls for communities blighted by constant cancellations to be given compensation.
But in an inside track on his speech, we can reveal the Lib Dems want to go even further to ensure ferries are not the sole option for those who currently need to use them.
Looking beyond our own shores, Mr Cole-Hamilton will earmark the Faroe Islands as the perfect example for Scotland to follow.
The self-governing archipelago – which is part of the Danish Kingdom – has successfully connected 18 islands with bridges and short tunnels.
Mr Cole-Hamilton is expected to say: “Islanders deserve compensation, but on top of that I want to tell you about the liberal vision for connecting these communities.
“We are looking to the Faroe Islands. They’ve connected their island communities with bridges and short tunnels. It has been transformational.
“That’s the kind of innovation Scotland’s ferry-dependent communities desperately need.”
Last year, we revealed Westminster officials had been exploring the possibility of connecting island communities with “James Bond-style” undersea links.
But the projects could cost at least £20 million per kilometre, according to previous projects in the Faroes, a major commitment when funds are stretched.
Earlier this month, Shetland council chiefs said plans to connect the archipelago with brand new tunnels were at an “advanced” stage.
As it stands the islands are served by a fleet of 12 vessels which sail up to 70,000 times a year, described as the area’s “social and economic backbone”.
The island of Unst in Shetland, which sits at the very northern tip of Scotland, is only accessible by ferry.
It’s the site of a new state-of-the-art spaceport currently being built – but Mr Cole-Hamilton reckons the project would benefit if the island was better connected.
Scotland’s depleted ferry network has been under severe pressure as a result of lengthy delays to the building of two vessels by Ferguson Marine.
The new ships were intended to be added to CalMac’s fleet by 2018, but remain under construction.
Mr Cole-Hamilton will point out the constant disruption which has affected residents and workers who depend on the Corran Ferry.
Despite the route being a short sailing on the mainland, regular cancellations mean those who use the service are often left with a much longer drive instead.
In May, business owners in the area insisted a bridge was the “only solution” to tackling the crisis.
Mr Cole-Hamilton is expected to say: “Connecting these communities should matter to all of us. It’s in the national interest.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The government is acutely aware of the challenges faced by these communities and has engaged with them directly, outlining the ways in which we are prioritising actions to improve reliability in the short and longer term.
“Ministers continue to meet Ferguson Marine management and reiterate the impact that ferry delays have on the island communities.”
“Our priorities have always been the completion of the two ferries, securing a sustainable future for the yard and its workers, and supporting our island communities that rely on this type of vessel.”