North East MSP and Scottish Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Mike Rumbles has called on the Scottish Government to implement a long-term plan of investment for ferry services, providing transport security for island communities for decades to come.
During an opposition day debate in the Scottish Parliament today, Mr Rumbles highlighted the potential dangers of an aging fleet and the snowballing cost of planned and unplanned maintenance.
This summer, ferry operator CalMac reported that the risk of break-down is now 'significant' for many of their aging vessels.
Mr Rumbles said:
“Repairs at sea can only get us so far, we urgently need a long-term plan for our ferry services in Scotland.
“Earlier this year, the Scottish Government welcomed the principles of fair funding for local ferry services for the Northern Isles. By definition, the Scottish Government has accepted the responsibly to support vital ferry links for our island communities and help operators fund the snowballing cost of planned and unplanned maintenance.”
Mr Rumbles also reminded Ministers of their promises to Orkney MSP Liam McArthur and Shetland MSP Tavish Scott to support fair funding for Northern Isles ferries:
“The Northern isles lifeline ferry services are in a tendering process now. The Scottish Government must ensure that the future freight export needs of the islands are built into that contract specification. Industry has given them the information they need.”