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Councillor wants progress on Fair Isle ferry replacement

The Good Shepherd IV.

SOUTH mainland councillor Robbie McGregor has called on Shetland Islands Council to press forward with looking into replacing the Fair Isle ferry.

The SNP councillor said the ageing Good Shepherd IV is no longer fit for purpose and has issues over passenger access and cargo capacity.

McGregor said he will raise the issue personally with transport and islands minister Humza Yousaf.

The councillor wants the council to move the vessel procurement process forward while talks continue with the Scottish Government about the future fair-funding of ferries.

L-R: Ian Pearson (marine superintendent), councillor Robbie McGregor, Kenny Stout (engineer), Deryk Shaw (deckhand), Scott Spence (deckhand) and Ian Best (master).

“This would enable matters like the design and more accurate cost of the vessel to be in place when the government provides the appropriate funding,” McGregor said.

The council was given £5 million from the government for running its inter-island ferries this financial year, but future revenue and capital funding has not yet been confirmed.

“This replacement issue has taken too long already and I make this plea on behalf of Fair Isle and the vibrant tourist industry which would grow if there was a better transport link,” the councillor added.

McGregor added that access to the ferry is “impossible” for a disabled person, while he said a better passenger lounge would “ensure a more comfortable customer experience”.

The Good Shepherd IV, which can carry 12 passengers, is over 30 years old.

During the summer it sails three times a week to/from Grutness in the south end and once a fortnight to Lerwick.

In the winter there is one sailing per week on Tuesdays.

Fair Isle is also served by weekday flights from Tingwall Airport, while there is also a less regular service from Sumburgh Airport.

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