SNP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar Alasdair Allan has welcomed “significant progress” in shortening the period of proposed disruption to ferry services to North Uist and Harris while Uig pier in Skye is being rebuilt.
Following a meeting last week between the Minister and local stakeholders including community representatives and the local MSP and MP, an alternative option to the schedule for Uig pier’s essential works and developments, has now been put forward.
Alasdair Allan commented:
“The original proposal would have seen Uig pier closed for over five months this winter, meaning no ferries at all to Tarbert, Harris and the service from Lochmaddy being diverted far to the north to Ullapool during that long period.
“The new option would reduce the outage period from 24 weeks to 14 weeks, split into an 8 week and a 6 week period (30 Jan – 27 March and 30 Oct – 11 Dec 2023).
“During the meeting, CalMac also indicated that MV Arrow and MV Pentalina were more likely to be available during both the new proposed outage periods. If this proves possible, then it would have a significant impact on the resilience of services during those times.
“I welcome this new proposal which will very significantly reduce the number of weeks that Uig pier will be out of action for. It is my view that this disruption, while still far from ideal, will be easier for local businesses and passengers to work around. The Minister for Transport has put a lot of work into coming back with these alternative proposals.
“I know that people are increasingly anxious for CalMac’s winter timetable to be published so that they can make the travel bookings they need for the months ahead. I am hopeful that once the implications of option is confirmed that the winter timetable will be able to be published as soon as possible.”
This announcement follows months of campaigning by MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, along with other community representatives from the Western Isles who were deeply concerned about the potential ramifications of a lengthy five or six-month closure on businesses and individuals in Harris and Uist.
The Western Isles MSP first wrote to the Transport Minister last year to highlight his concerns about the inadequacy of the mitigation arrangements which had previously been proposed, and the Minister has hosted regular engagement meetings this summer with local representatives along with CalMac and Highland Council, who are leading the Uig pier replacement project.