Orkney’s MSP Mr McArthur has called on the Scottish Government to intervene following Northlink’s announcement that the MV Hamnavoe will be replaced with a freight vessel when it goes off for planned maintenance in the new year.
The announcement follows parliamentary responses to Mr McArthur from the Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf MSP, that offered no assurances that appropriate cover would be found.
Responding to the announcement today, Mr McArthur said:
“Planned maintenance is an essential part of making sure that our lifeline ferry services run smoothly. However, it is simply isn’t acceptable that a freight vessel should be brought in to operate the Stromness-Scrabster route. It was not adequate cover in 2013, it isn’t adequate cover now.
“Last year, the MV Isle of Lewis was put into service on this route to cover the refit period. While I recognise the limited options open to Serco Northlink, people in Orkney have every right to expect something similar again this time round.
“In reality, this would require cooperation from CalMac and CMAL. Unfortunately, the Transport Minister appears unwilling to use his influence to ensure that cooperation delivers an acceptable solution. In answer to my recent parliamentary question, Mr Yousaf effectively washed his hands of any responsibility and seemed happy for a freighter to be used as a replacement for the MV Hamnavoe.
“This shows a remarkable disregard for the needs of the Orkney community and the flaws inherent in the contract signed by the Scottish Government."