Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Thursday) sought confirmation from the Islands Minister, Paul Wheelhouse that the replacement of Orkney’s internal ferry vessels will be included in the Scottish Government’s latest ferries plan.
During Portfolio Questions, Mr McArthur reiterated the urgent need for replacement of Orkney’s ageing internal ferry fleet and pressed the Minister for an assurance that it would be laid out in the forthcoming Ferries Plan.
Orkney’s MSP also challenged Mr Wheelhouse on claims from some within his party that the lack of progress so far had been as a result of ‘a lack of vision’ from either the current and previous leadership of Orkney Islands Council.
In response, Mr Wheelhouse confirmed that he continued to have ‘constructive’ discussions with the leadership of OIC on the need to invest in internal ferry services.
Mr McArthur commented:
“The Scottish Government published its National Ferries Plan in 2012, setting out minimum standards islanders should expect for their lifeline ferry services. This Plan exposed the extent to which services in Orkney fall below those standards, not least in frequency and costs.
“Welcome additional ferry funding was announced recently by Ministers, though it’s still not clear whether this is a long term commitment. Neither is there any clarity on when Orkney’s ageing vessels will be replaced.
“In his response to me in parliament today, Mr Wheelhouse acknowledged the growing urgency of procuring new vessels. He must now ensure that his forthcoming ferries plan paves the way to addressing problems highlighted almost a decade ago”.