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Pentland Ferries lose subsidy appeal

Pentland Ferries vessel Pentalina runs a non-subsidised route between St Margaret’s Hope and Gills Bay.

Pentland Ferries has lost an appeal over Scottish Government subsidies for ferries connecting the Northern Isles to the Scottish mainland, it was announced yesterday, Tuesday.

The company has been challenging the lawfulness of a proposed subsidy under a single public service contract on ferry routes between Scrabster and Stromness, along with services between with Aberdeen, Kirkwall and Lerwick.

The firm, which operates its own service between Gills Bay and St Margaret’s Hope, raised a legal challenge earlier this year, which was rejected by a judge at the Court of Session. Pentland Ferries services are not subsidised, and the company challenged the inclusion of the Scrabster route across the Pentland Firth within the contract, maintaining that this subsidy threatened its competing business.

Yesterday, it was revealed that an appeal made by the family-run ferry operator had been refused by three civil judges.

“We are obviously disappointed with the announcement received today of our appeal outcome,” a spokeswoman from Pentland Ferries said, in the wake of the decision.
“This case has not been about trying to abolish the Stromness to Scrabster route, nor has it been about trying to obtain a share of the subsidy for ourselves.
“We embarked upon this legal action to challenge the drastic escalation of subsidy being provided to support the Stromness to Scrabster route, which affects the viability of our own wholly unsubsidised, family-run business.
“There continues to be a separate ongoing European Commission investigation, and we are hopeful that it will produce an outcome that safeguards the future of our service and enables us to operate in a fairer business environment.
“For now, we will take some time to consider how today’s decision affects the future of Pentland Ferries.”

For the full story, pick up a copy of this Thursday’s The Orcadian.

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