David Stewart MSP

Ferry Inquiry Gets Go Ahead

David Stewart, Highlands and Islands Labour Regional MSP, is welcoming a unanimous decision for the go-ahead of a major inquiry into ferry links to the Scottish islands.

At a meeting of the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee at the Scottish Parliament this afternoon members emphasised the urgency of launching the public inquiry which would explore all the major factors of what Mr Stewart describes as ‘the most important rural transport issue facing the Highlands and Islands’.
Mr Stewart, who hopes the inquiry will start before the end of the year, outlined the importance of developing ferry services for users.

The inquiry will explore, amongst other things, tendering, Road Equivalent Tariff, funding, routes, timetables, fares and capacity.

“It is important we develop a strong rural element to this inquiry and I have proposed today that the committee holds visits in Shetland, the Western Isles and Arran – all of which face difficult issues in terms of ferry transport,” said Mr Stewart.

He added: “The speed, availability and cost of ferries has a major impact on our island communities and are the life-line for sustainability, tourism and cargo transportation.

“The Committee today discussed an inquiry which would explore all these issues within a framework of understanding the costs of operating ferries so that we can look at ways to create a viable commercial industry.”

The inquiry will gain full views from ferry users by access to the parliament’s website, by publishing leaflets which can be distributed on the ferries and by inviting participation from interested businesses and groups.

Before confirming the final remit the Committee agreed to write to the Minister for Transport, Stewart Stevenson, to confirm there is no duplication between the inquiry and a government review which is set to take place as part of the national transport strategy.

“Ferries are vital to the islands – not just as a service in themselves – but as a source of economic development,” said Mr Stewart.

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Written by davidstewart

November 6, 2007 at 5:31 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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