Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has pressed the First Minister over the exclusion of lifeline internal ferry services in the Scottish Government's Islands Connectivity Plan.
Orkney Islands Council has received confirmation that the Islands Connectivity Plan will only consider services under the direct responsibility of Scottish Ministers. This would exclude the internal services in Orkney and Shetland.
Mr McArthur raised the issue at First Ministers Questions, and asked “why the government's National Islands Plan does not appear to include the needs of all Scotland's islands?" In response, Nicola Sturgeon simply confirmed that "we have been discussing with island authorities for some time the inter-island ferry services and we will continue to do that."
Responding afterwards, Mr McArthur said:
"This frankly beggars belief and is an insult to communities in the Northern Isles.
"How on earth can the SNP government produce an islands connectivity plan which excludes key lifeline ferry services in Orkney and Shetland. It seems that this government believes there are some islands that deserve to be connected and others than do not.
"The First Minister's response hardly inspired confidence. The prospect of ongoing 'talks about talks' will be depressingly familiar to communities in Orkney that just want to know when they will get the lifeline ferry services they desperately need."