McArthur presses Scottish Government again to increase Pentland Firth sailings

10 May 2023

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur reiterated his call for a fourth daily return sailing between Stromness and Scrabster following the grounding of MV Pentalina earlier this month.

During Rural Affairs and Islands Questions in parliament this afternoon, Mr McArthur highlighted ongoing concerns amongst local businesses and the wider public about ‘pinch points’ on particular sailings and a loss of connectivity to and from the smaller isles in Orkney.

In response, the Transport Minister, Kevin Stewart acknowledged the problems, confirming that he was in discussions with Northlink about how any additional demand for freight and passenger capacity might be met, and hoped to be in a position to make an announcement shortly. Mr Stewart also thanked Orkney’s MSP, as well as Orkney Islands Council for the feedback they had been providing on the impact of the disruption.

Speaking after the exchange, Mr McArthur said:

“I welcome the efforts of Serco Northlink to meet the additional freight and passenger demands resulting from the grounding of MV Pentalina earlier this month. However, I continue to receive reports from constituents and local businesses about the difficulties they have faced, from a lack of capacity on key sailings to cancelled trips and thousands of pounds in lost revenue.

“I recognise that assessments need to be made of the likely demand over the coming weeks, but as we enter the busiest time of the year, businesses and the public need certainty in order to be able to plan ahead. This is a point I have made to the Transport Minister and Serco Northlink over recent days, and again in parliament this afternoon. Hopefully we will have that clarity sooner rather than later.”