Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has criticised the Scottish Government’s continued failure to introduce Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) on Pentland Firth routes.
Mr McArthur recently lodged parliamentary questions seeking an update from Scottish Ministers on work to establish an agreed mechanism for delivering RET in Orkney. In response, the Islands Minister, Paul Wheelhouse admitted that he cannot currently provide a timeframe.
Meantime, the Scottish Government has published its latest assessment on the benefits of RET on west coast routes, which have seen ferry fares reduced ‘significantly’. In another parliament response detailing the Evaluation Report findings, Mr Wheelhouse referred to increased demand for ferry services making them more affordable and accessible; increased tourism; and enhanced local economies.
Responding, Mr McArthur said:
“It’s almost three years since RET was supposed to be introduced on ferry routes serving Orkney and still we are waiting. Meantime, it’s more than a decade since routes serving the Western Isles have benefited from cheaper fares.
“While the latest evaluation report on RET draws attention to more affordable and accessible services, increased tourism and a boost to island economies, the Islands Minister still can’t tell people in Orkney when they might expect to have access to similar benefits.
“Instead, the Scottish Government now seem intent on blaming UK Ministers for their continued failure to deliver on their promises regarding RET.
“This is just the latest excuse in more than a decade of ducking and diving by SNP Ministers. People in Orkney are fed up with the excuses and simply want to know when they will have access to cheaper ferry fares on their lifeline routes.”