Alarm bells raised over the need for replacement ferries, says McArthur

23 Nov 2022

Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has once again urged the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, to find an urgent resolution to the "long-running saga" of replacing Orkney's ageing internal ferry fleet.

Speaking during Finance and Economy Questions earlier, Mr McArthur reiterated the warnings issued by Orkney Islands Council this week that the precarious state of the fleet is "risking life and limb", adding that the vulnerability of the lifeline services has been exacerbated by "repairs to ancient hulls" and the grounding of the MV Varagen earlier this month.

Orkney's MSP went on to ask Mr Swinney if he accepted that this was a public safety issue and, if so, what commitment he would give that the matter would be resolved in forthcoming budget talks with OIC. In response, Mr Swinney said that the Scottish Government "is engaging constructively on the importance of renewing the ferry fleet to serve all of our island communities."

Commenting afterwards, Mr McArthur said:

"Orkney Islands Council is right to be ringing the alarm bell over the need for replacement ferries.

"Pleas have been made to Scottish Ministers over many years, but the situation is now getting perilous. The fragility of these vessels and the vulnerability of these lifeline services have been all too evident recently. More and more, our island communities face transport disruption on a regular basis.

"With confirmation that the Deputy First Minister is due to meet OIC shortly to discuss budgetary issues, renewal of the internal ferry fleet must be high on the agenda. With public safety now flagged as a risk, the time for kicking this can down the road is well and truly over. Scottish Ministers must recognise their responsibility in helping deliver safe and reliable ferry services for all island communities."

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