Orkney MSP Liam McArthur traveled to Inverness today to meet senior officials at SSE and Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership.
Liam McArthur met with the Director of Highlands & Islands regional transport agency, HITRANS, Ranald Robertson to discuss key issues affecting transport in Orkney and the wider region. The meeting covered all modes of transport, as well as the way in which better integration of the transport network can be achieved.
Mr McArthur also visited SSE's regional headquarters to discuss contingency planning for the coming winter with Ian Morrison, Highlands and Islands depot manager for SHEPD, and Alistair MacEachran, Construction Manager for SHE Transmission. The meeting also saw Orkney's MSP reiterate concerns about capacity in the local islands grid network.
Commenting on the HITRANS meeting, Mr McArthur said:
"It was good to have an opportunity to discuss the role that HITRANS is playing in helping make the case for improved transport links to, from and within Orkney. Very often these are a lifeline for sustaining communities, retaining population and allowing businesses to compete.
"I welcome HITRANS' support in demanding improved reliability of our air services. Longer term we also need to be looking at the design of airports across the region and the aircraft that will be providing the service. For now, however, HITRANS is right to be highlighting the serious impact that flight delays are having on communities across the region.
"It was also encouraging to hear Mr Robertson recognise the urgent need to reach an agreement on the replacement of Orkney's internal ferry fleet. This issue has been under discussion for many years now, but final decisions will need to be taken soon if vessels are to be procured and infrastructure put in place.
"Hopefully the more constructive tone in discussions between Scottish Government and the Council will result in a positive outcome in the coming months. HITRANS support will no doubt be helpful in making that happen."
Commenting on the meeting with SSE, Mr McArthur said:
"As we prepare for another winter, it was a useful to hear from SSE's Regional Head of Operations about how the company is making its network more resilient and the plans for dealing with weather-related faults. In particular, I was impressed by the steps being taken by SSE, working alongside partner agencies, to ensure the needs of vulnerable customers are prioritised in the event of outages."