Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan today attended a meeting at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, where the initial report of the Outer Hebrides Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) appraisal was presented.

Consultants Peter Brett Associates LLP were commissioned by Transport Scotland to carry out the study. The Outer Hebrides STAG examines the long-term options for the ferry routes to and from the Outer Hebrides, and on the Sounds of Barra and Harris.

The study is being informed and guided by a Reference Group, which is being led by Transport Scotland and includes Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, HITRANS, CMAL and CalMac Ferries Ltd. The appraisal will identify and evaluate options for the long-term.

Alasdair Allan commented:

“The Outer Hebrides STAG is an important piece of work that will help to determine the future approach to ferries in the Western Isles.

“During the meeting I raised the need to start work now on short term measures that might alleviate pressure on several routes. For instance, we could better utilise deck space and open up evening sailings between Stornoway and Ullapool to more passengers.

“I also stressed the necessity for lifeline ferry routes between islands and the mainland to be prioritised in the event of vessel breakdowns over other routes where the communities can still be accessed by road.

“There is clearly a consensus that CalMac does not have enough vessels or capacity to cope with the ever-increasing demand it is facing, and that long-term solutions are required. While the appraisal is a consultant’s view of the situation, there are a number of suggestions to help in the short-term that I hope the Scottish Government will consider implementing.”

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