Yesterday SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, met with the Transport Minister, along with representatives from island communities, CalMac, Highland Council, Transport Scotland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, to discuss the arrangements which are to be put in place during Uig pier’s closure this winter.
The pier is due to be closed from the 10th October until the 23rd March for essential repair and development work. During the meeting, Highland Council and CalMac outlined several potential mitigation options for the period during which Uig pier is due to be closed this winter, but emphasised that there were additional risks and costs associated with each of the potential options.
The Western Isles MSP, along with others present, stressed the monumental financial losses which will be borne by island communities over the closure period as things currently stand, and that this needed to be fully considered when mitigation options are being assessed and agreed. Allan emphasised that the current proposals for the outage simply do not command public confidence, and were arrived at before the recent and persistent problems on the island routes.
Commenting after the meeting, Allan said:
“While I appreciate the continued efforts to identify solutions to the difficulties which will be experienced by island businesses and individuals throughout Uig pier’s closure period, I remain deeply concerned about the situation. Public anxiety around the proposals has only been increased by the severe and frequent disruption to Harris and Uist’s lifeline ferry services that communities have been forced to endure in recent weeks and months.
“It is positive that the Transport Minister continues to engage constructively on both this issue and the wider ferry network resilience problems. I hope that the costings and logistics for the mitigation options outlined yesterday can be clarified as quickly as possible, as this will allow the necessary decisions to be taken so that passengers and businesses can finally have some degree of certainty about their options for the months ahead.”