Constructive Discussion Around Clipper Ranger and Ferry Capacity Issues
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Leader, Cllr Roddie Mackay, has raised the matter of ferry capacity with MSP Keith Brown, The Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work in what has been described as a very positive meeting.
Speaking following the meeting, Mr Mackay said:
"Ferries are not just about transport but also very much about economic impacts and I wanted to ensure that Mr Brown was aware of the hugely negative economic impact on our islands as a direct result of inadequate ferry capacity.
I asked Mr Brown if he would look into the availability and potential of engaging the Clipper Ranger as a dedicated freight vessel in time for this summer. This was a very productive meeting and whilst the Minister had reservations regarding additional spend, he did acknowledge that it was a real issue and assured me he would look into the matter.
Whilst the Transport Minister had suggested that he was looking for an additional vessel, the Comhairle was becoming increasingly concerned about the potential capacity challenges facing us again this year. We have carried out some research ourselves and it would appear that the Clipper Ranger may offer a meaningful solution. Therefore, we have asked Scottish Government to pursue this as a matter of urgency.
A dedicated freight vessel will go a very long way to alleviating this capacity issue and allowing the islands to enjoy significantly increased economic growth.
We are confident that Scottish Government and Ministers have a real understanding of the issue and hope that they will support an arrangement to have the Clipper Ranger back on the Stornoway-Ullapool route this summer.
I would like to thank the Minister for his positive engagement on this crucial islands' issue."