‘We’re go­ing to need a bet­ter boat!’

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - NEWS - By An­drew Picken apicken@dc­tMe­dia.co.uk

An ex­pert advisor to the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment has called for CalMac’s age­ing ferry fleet to be re­placed by cata­ma­rans in a move he claims will save the tax­payer £2.5 bil­lion. Soar­ing de­mand is in­creas­ing pres­sure on CalMac’s fleet of 32 ves­sels, 10 of which are more than 30 years old. MSPs are cur­rently re­view­ing the re­place­ment ves­sel plan for Scot­land’s fer­ries and Dr Alf Baird, a trans­port ex­pert who ad­vises the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment, called for re­think. Dr Baird said cata­ma­rans are sub­stan­tially cheaper to build and main­tain, and more eco­nom­i­cal. He said: “This so­lu­tion is rel­a­tively straight­for­ward and in­volves the con­struc­tion of up to 30 proven and more ef­fi­cient, lower cost and lower emis­sion fer­ries.” Mean­while, the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives have called for greater trans­parency on a se­cret £15m loan from the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to Fer­gu­son Ma­rine, which is build­ing two new CalMac ves­sels. Fer­gu­son Ma­rine re­ceived two loans from SNP min­is­ters to­talling £45m; an ini­tial loan of £15m in Septem­ber 2017 and a sub­se­quent loan of £30m in June this year. The ini­tial loan was kept se­cret due to ‘com­mer­cial con­fi­den­tial­ity’ and has only come to light af­ter it was re­vealed the two new ships had been de­layed and are sub­ject to a con­tract wran­gle.

Dr Alf Baird

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