Investment vital to improve ferry route
FURTHER investment and ongoing communication are being sought by stakeholders to improve a ferry route near Skye.
Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) is currently holding public meetings regarding the design and build of the new dual fuel vessel for the Uig triangle route and to discuss Uig, Tarbert and Lochmaddy harbours.
According to Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan and Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes, concerns over investment and communication were raised by community groups and businesses at the meetings. In past years, significant service disruption on the Uig triangle has been attributed to the pier’s alignment, prompting the pair to write jointly to CMAL to urge increased investment in Uig pier.
Alasdair Allan said: ‘It was clear to me from meeting people who attended the recent meeting held by CMAL in Lochmaddy, that there are concerns about the ability to bring vessels alongside in Uig, particularly in a south-westerly wind. This can obviously be disruptive to passengers coming from Uist and Harris.
‘ With £97 million being spent by the Scottish Government on two new duel ferries – one of which is earmarked for the Uig triangle – it makes sense changes are made to Uig to make it more accessible. I would urge CMAL to continue to engage with the communities about plans for improvements at Uig.’
A CMAL spokesperson thanked the communities for their time and feedback at the meetings and said the alignment of the pier at Uig is being further investigated.
She added: ‘We know harbour improvements are needed – the arrival of the new vessel is accelerating the process. However, we do not know what work will be required or costs until investigations have been completed at each harbour. We expect to have the investigation work completed by June or July 2017.
‘We are committed to keeping communities informed and further public meetings are planned for September and updates will be available on our website. The harbour at Uig is owned by Highland Council and the cost of any future work will be covered by the council as the owner.
‘Likewise, at Lochmaddy, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will cover the cost. CMAL owns the harbour at Tarbert and we will pay for any work required there. The cost of harbour upgrade work is covered by harbour dues.’ Highland Council told the
Lochaber Times it anticipates the scope of works and the delivery programme will be established by June/July.
It will be consulting further to show the development of the proposals and mitigation works and seek further stakeholder and public comments.