Ferries Resilience Fund

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 25th April 2019.

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Photo of Paul Wheelhouse Paul Wheelhouse Scottish National Party

At the heart of Rhoda Grant’s comment is a genuine point and one that we acknowledge. Historically, vessels have been designed for specific routes and perhaps not enough thought has been given to how they could be interchangeable across the network. There are local conditions that are limiting factors on the use of vessels, including depth of water, harbour approach conditions, orientation of berths and, not least, the fact that larger vessels cannot navigate in tightly confined spaces, as the member would acknowledge.

However, we are making progress on the interchangeability of vessels across the network, and we are looking at the vessel replacement deployment plan and how we can work with CalMac and CMAL to develop greater resilience, which will be designed in from the start. That cannot be done overnight, as I am sure that Rhoda Grant would acknowledge. It is an issue that we recognise and are working to try to address.

The MV Loch Seaforth is one of the most reliable vessels that we have. It is very reliable and has experienced only one incident of note so far. I hope that Rhoda Grant will accept that point.