Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has written to the European Commission and the Scottish Government seeking an urgent update on when a decision will be taken on proposals for Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) on Northern Isles ferry routes.
The Commission is currently looking into the Scottish Government’s proposed scheme in response to a complaint about its compliance with State Aid rules. According to the Scottish Government, no decision will be made about the implementation of RET for the Northern Isles until this review has been completed.
Mr McArthur has now written to both the Islands Minister, Paul Wheelhouse and the EU Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager highlighting the growing frustration in Orkney and Shetland about delays in implementing cheaper ferry fares on lifeline routes serving the Northern Isles, and continued uncertainty about when any final decision will be taken.
Commenting on the issue, Mr McArthur said:
“The Commission, of course, is obliged to conduct a thorough investigation given the complaint that has been made.
“However, it is not unreasonable for people in Orkney and Shetland to expect some urgency in reaching a decision. Having waited a decade for access to the cheaper fares enjoyed on west coast routes, Orcadians are understandably frustrated and angry at the ongoing delays in implementing RET on lifeline routes serving the Northern Isles.
“The RET saga has gone on long enough. People in Orkney have waited long enough. On the eve of yet another summer season, we need clarity from the Commission and Scottish Government about when a decision will be made.”