Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has raised concerns about the impact that restrictions on high-sided vehicles being carried on MV Eynhallow are likely to have on the communities of Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre.
During General Questions today (Thursday), Mr McArthur urged the Islands Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, to ensure his officials provide any assistance to Orkney Ferries that might be need to address the MCA’s concerns.
Mr McArthur also took the opportunity to highlight that the situation only served to reinforce the urgent need for Scottish Ministers to reach agreement with Orkney Islands Council on the funding of replacement vessels for Orkney’s lifeline internal ferry services.
In response, Mr Wheelhouse agreed to look into the situation regarding the MV Eynhallow and what support government could offer. He also confirmed that discussions about fleet replacement are ongoing with the Council.
Following the exchange, Orkney’s MSP commented:
“The communities in Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre are understandably deeply concerned about the impact these restrictions are having on many aspects of everyday life in the islands.
“It is imperative, therefore, that a solution is found as soon as possible and I welcome the Minister’s agreement that his officials will provide whatever support Orkney Ferries require in identifying a solution.
“The bottom line, however, is that much of Orkney’s internal ferry fleet urgently needs to be replaced. Discussions about this have been ongoing for years, but still there is no sign of a resolution being reached. Recent events surrounding the MV Eynhallow should bring it home to Ministers that continuing to kick the can down the road is no longer an option.
“Communities in the isles should not be expected to rely on vessels that are not fit for purpose. That simply risks ongoing disruption and undermines the very purpose of a lifeline service”.