South Uist Ferry Cancellations

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 8 June 2023.

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The First Minister:

I am not saying this out of frustration; I am doing it to re-emphasise the fact that the Scottish Government understands the concern of many of the islanders who have been affected, including the person in the example that was given by Douglas Ross in the question that he just asked. We are investing in the ferry network. I have already given examples of the action that we have taken, including the fact that we have committed investment for six new ferries and look forward to their being part of the network by 2026.

The question of compensation is a very fair question for islanders to ask and for Douglas Ross to raise. I have looked at the issue of compensation, and I am happy to re-examine it. Any such scheme would need to be carefully considered, because it would require a stark choice to be made about funding priorities. We invest the funds from those penalties—the deductions that we take from CalMac—into the resilience of the network, such as by chartering the MV Alfred.

I completely understand the impact and effect that the disruption is having on the community of South Uist. We will continue to engage with the communities of South Uist and, where we can support businesses and livelihoods, I will explore what more can be done.