Ferry Fleet Capacity (Northern Isles)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 30th September 2021.

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Photo of Beatrice Wishart Beatrice Wishart Liberal Democrat

Reputational damage is being caused to some Shetland businesses as Transport Scotland fails to address the need for adequate year-round ferry fleet capacity. One removals company has had future bookings cancelled, which resulted in a house owner sitting on the floor in their empty new home. That is just one recent example.

There can be no economic growth without sufficient infrastructure. The matter has been raised before, but the response was that pinch points are recognised and that all options are being considered. There is growing frustration and anger in the isles that no interim solution has been found. Will the First Minister indicate what Transport Scotland does with the freight information that northern isles stakeholders provide to it? When will the Scottish Government address that serious problem?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

The Minister for Transport has engaged on the issues, which are important. There are plans to develop two new freight vessels, which will address the issue in the long-term. The minister has also given an assurance that work is under way to explore potential short-term actions to alleviate some of the pressures on the busiest sailings.

I will ask the transport minister to write directly to Beatrice Wishart. If she wishes to provide details of the particular case that she cited, those will be passed on. I will ask Graeme Day to provide more detail about the work that is under way to resolve the issue in the short term as well as in the longer term.