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Transport / Islanders urged to share their views on the state of ferry services

Fares on passenger ferries the Hrossey and Hjaltland are to fall. Photo: Shetland News/Hans J Marter.
The inquiry will look at ferry services at the Scottish west coast as weel as the northern isles. Photo: Shetland News

ISLANDERS will have a chance to express their frustrations with the current state of ferry services as part of an inquiry held by the Scottish Parliament’s net zero, energy and transport committee.

The committee said it is keen to hear from islanders across Scotland, mainland residents and businesses impacted by ferry services.

The inquiry comes at a crucial moment at time with widespread disruptions and limitations in Shetland’s internal and external ferry services.

The inquiry has been called in response to a petition by residents of Uist (in the Western Isles) who are fed up with the unreliability of their ferry services provided by state-owned Calmac.

An initial session with representatives from six island communities, including Yell Community Council chairman Laurence Odie, was held last week

Within the inquiry, the committee will consider areas such as:

  • What do island residents, businesses, and other ferry users need from Scottish Government-supported ferry services?’
  • What institutional and funding arrangements would meet the needs of current and future ferry users?’
  • What vessel size, type, deployment and crewing arrangements would best satisfy the infrastructure?
Committee convener Dean Lockhart MSP.

Committee chair Dean Lockhart MSP said: “Scotland needs a reliable ferry service that is future-proofed, compatible with Scotland’s net zero goals and meets the needs of all service users.

“Without this, the stark reality is that the long-term sustainability of island communities and businesses is at risk.

“We’re keen to hear many different perspectives on what a modern ferry service should look like.

“These views will help us inform Scottish Government policies and strategies with a view to securing a positive outcome for the future of ferries and island connectivity in Scotland.”

People and business can submit their views and comments using this link.

The call for evidence will be kept open until 26 August. The committee will then hear oral evidence and is expected to report on its conclusions early next year.