Investment in the Clyde and Hebrides ferry services network will be placed under the spotlight by a parliamentary committee.
The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee has launched a call for views to give the public and relevant stakeholders the chance to put their opinions forward on the level of investment that should be made to support these ferry services in future years. They also want to examine the impact ferries have on the wider rural economy in areas served by these services.
The Committee’s call for views comes on the back of recent significant disruption to Clyde and Hebrides ferry services which highlighted the limited resilience of the fleet.
Edward Mountain MSP, Convener of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee said:
“Ferry services are a lifeline for the islands, allowing residents in island communities to commute and to access vital services like health care and education. With increased passenger and vehicle numbers in recent years, the ferry services are under greater pressure, and any service disruption such as that witnessed recently can also have a negative impact, including loss of tourist income.
“We want to capture the views of the public on the investment levels that are required to ensure that that network resilience can be improved and maintained at a sufficient level in future years. These views will form a vital part of our budget scrutiny where we provide recommendations to the government on how they can support the rural economy.”
Some of the questions the Committee will be asking include:
- Is the current and proposed level of investment in vessels and port infrastructure enough to ensure the resilience of the Clyde and Hebrides ferries network in future years?
- Has sufficient investment been made to handle increased demand and passenger numbers, particularly since the introduction of the Road Equivalent Tariff?
- What impact could state aid and procurement rules have on ferries investment?
- What would be the impact on services and island life if ferry services are not appropriately funded?
The call for views will run for nine weeks, until 7 September 2018, and people can fill in a short, anonymous online survey to gather views and experiences of ferries.
We welcome written views in English, Gaelic, Scots or any other language. Written responses can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Scottish Government published its Ferries Plan on 19 December 2012, which is based on the results of the Scottish Ferries Review.
The Ferries Plan makes recommendations on where investment should be focused to improve connections for island and remote rural communities, improving reliability and journey times, promoting social inclusion and maximising opportunities for employment, business, leisure and tourism.
It also sets out proposals to develop ferry services and assets between 2013 and 2022, at an estimated cost of £390 million in capital and £10 million a year in revenue.
In addition, Transport Scotland’s Vessel Replacement and Deployment Plan (VRDP), produced in 2016, gives an overview of how existing, planned and prospective vessels could be deployed across the Clyde and Hebrides ferry service network to deliver the commitments set out in the Ferries Plan and better meet forecast demand. The VRDP informs Scottish Government consideration of new vessel and harbour investments.