Responding to the announcement in the Scottish Government’s budget of an additional £7.7 million to support the inter-island ferries in Orkney and Shetland, Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur commented:
“This additional funding for our lifeline internal ferry services is undoubtedly welcome. Having been promised ‘fair funding’ by the First Minister since the last election, it’s remarkable how the prospect of an upcoming election concentrates the minds of SNP Ministers.
“Welcome too is the proposal to fund RET on internal ferry services. Some of these are amongst the most expensive routes mile-for-mile anywhere in the country.
“Given we are still waiting for RET on Pentland Firth routes three years after it was due to be introduced and twelve years after it was introduced on west coast routes, it may be premature to celebrate just yet.
“Of course, this will not stop SNP politicians from being first in the queue to pat themselves on the back. Let’s not forget, however, that Orkney has consistently been short-changed on ferry funding over the course of this parliament since the promises made at the last election.
“There is a strong argument for the millions in under-funding now to be repaid. Indeed, it is a case SNP Ministers themselves have been making to the UK Government over VAT payments for Police Scotland. If it’s good enough for police funding, it’s good enough for ferry funding.”