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McArthur slams lack of progress on internal ferry replacement

Liam McArthur MSP

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has challenged claims from the Scottish Government that a “lack of vision” on the part of Orkney Islands Council is behind delays in replacing the county’s ageing ferry fleet.

On Thursday, Mr McArthur called out islands minister, Paul Wheelhouse, over the claims made by his colleagues. The Orkney MSP also restated the “urgent need” for replacement of his constituency’s internal ferry fleet.

In response, Mr Wheelhouse confirmed that he continued to have “constructive” discussions with the leadership of OIC on the need to invest in internal ferry services.

Mr McArthur said: “The Scottish Government published its National Ferries Plan in 2012, setting out minimum standards islanders should expect for their lifeline ferry services.  This Plan exposed the extent to which services in Orkney fall below those standards, not least in frequency and costs.

“Welcome additional ferry funding was announced recently by Ministers, though it’s still not clear whether this is a long term commitment. Neither is there any clarity on when Orkney’s ageing vessels will be replaced.

“In his response to me in parliament today, Mr Wheelhouse acknowledged the growing urgency of procuring new vessels. He must now ensure that his forthcoming ferries plan paves the way to addressing problems highlighted almost a decade ago.”

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