Ardrossan to Brodick Ferry

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 29 February 2024.

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Photo of Baroness Katy Clark Baroness Katy Clark Labour

7. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will make a long-term commitment to retain the Ardrossan to Brodick ferry service. (S6O-03148)

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government maintains its commitment to ensuring that services to Arran are fit for the future. The business case, including cost estimates, for Ardrossan harbour redevelopment that is being prepared must be as robust as possible to secure the required funding from all the funding partners, which are North Ayrshire Council, Peel Ports and Transport Scotland.

I take the opportunity to acknowledge and understand the significant difficulties that the Arran community has faced on the operation of ferry services, which has been extremely challenging, given the severe weather disruptions and vessel outages. The MV Isle of Arran is currently operating a single-vessel service between Ardrossan and Brodick, and there are no capacity issues.

Photo of Baroness Katy Clark Baroness Katy Clark Labour

The cabinet secretary knows that, on Arran and in Ardrossan, there is a great deal of concern about whether Ardrossan to Brodick will be the long-term route. Will she reassure people there that it will be, given that it is the quickest and most convenient route, and given the ferry port’s socioeconomic importance to Ardrossan?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

The member’s point about the socioeconomic case is important, which is why Transport Scotland officials will next week meet North Ayrshire Council again to ensure that the business case is as robust as possible. Last week, under the auspices of Kenny Gibson, who is the constituency MSP, I met a number of Arran ferry stakeholders to discuss the issues.

Photo of Jamie Greene Jamie Greene Conservative

What I did not hear in either of the cabinet secretary’s two responses was a firm commitment that Brodick to Ardrossan will be retained as the primary route. The Scottish Government did not build a ferry that was fit for purpose on that route, and neither has the Scottish Government invested properly in Ardrossan harbour since the 2017 campaign to save it as part of the primary route. Will the Government give a firm commitment that it is committed to the Brodick to Ardrossan ferry route remaining for the future?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

We are committed to that service. I remind Jamie Greene that the Scottish Government is not the harbour authority for Ardrossan; it is Peel Ports. The United Kingdom Government’s subsidy control measures will have an impact on what can or cannot be done to allow the Scottish Government to invest in a harbour that is not our own but which is owned by a private entity.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

I thank the cabinet secretary for meeting me and North Ayrshire representatives to discuss this important issue at such short notice. When are the final report on Ardrossan harbour from the consultants Turner & Townsend and the structural report from Peel Ports expected?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

The cost exercise report from Turner & Townsend is expected by the end of this week. It will then be shared with project partners to assist with confirmation of financial packages for the project and to feed into work on the business case. We await the structural report from Peel Ports, which will also be essential to informing the business case work. Transport Scotland officials continue to engage with Peel Ports and other partners on this important matter and they note the urgency in developing the business case towards finalisation.