Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on its longer-term solution for Orkney's internal ferry services, in light of the commitment made on 21 March 2018 by the then Minister for Transport and the Islands to do so “before the summer recess”.
Paul Wheelhouse: Inter-islands ferries within Orkney and Shetland are wholly the responsibility of the Local Authorities.
The Ferries Plan made an offer that the Scottish Government would assume responsibility for Local Authority ferry services, at no net detriment to the Scottish Government. It noted that ultimately a transfer may not go ahead as the Scottish Government cannot guarantee to be in a position to provide additional funding. This offer to consider a transfer remains under the same principles.
We understand the significant financial challenges that can fall on individual local authorities and remain committed to the principle of fair funding in the provision of ferry services and ferry infrastructure.
Discussions regarding internal ferries are on-going with the leaderships and officials of local authorities, including Orkney, Shetland and Argyll and Bute, as well as Strathclyde Passenger Transport Authority. An update will be provided in due course.