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RET looking unlikely for Northern Isles, says McArthur

Liam McArthur MSP has again pressed for ferry routes in Orkney to be considered for the Scottish Government’s road equivalent tariff (RET) scheme.  In the Scottish Parliament yesterday, Mr McArthur questioned ministers on the basis for the decisions to extend the duration of the pilot and the inclusion of the Argyll islands.

Commenting afterwards, Mr McArthur said: “There is anger and disbelief within Orkney that SNP ministers have decided to prolong, indefinitely, this so-called ‘pilot’ scheme on west coast routes.  The announcement that the Argyll islands are to be added to the list of communities benefiting from the Government’s cheap ferry fare initiative has only fuelled that sense of injustice.

“In response to my questions today, the transport minister appeared to claim that Orkney would not benefit from RET.  Yet the Government’s own figures give the lie to this assertion.  On the Pentland Firth route, in particular, there would be significant reductions in certain fares.

“Despite earlier promises from SNP ministers that the initial pilot would pave the way for a wider roll out of RET, including routes serving Orkney and Shetland, it is clear that is no longer the case.  Indeed, it is doubtful that it ever was. Rather than consider the interests of all those communities which rely on lifeline ferry services, the transport minister seems happy to keep his cheap ferry fares scheme on ‘auto pilot’ and heading west”.

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