Scottish Daily Mail


Outrage as party co-leader charters boat for island visit instead of taking the ferry

- By Tom Eden Deputy Scottish Political Editor

GREEN minister Lorna Slater was last night accused of a ‘spectacu- lar display of hypocrisy’ for chartering a private catamaran to visit a Scottish island.

The beleaguere­d minister is set to travel to the Isle of Rum on the vessel today, instead of using a Scottish Government­owned CalMac ferry.

Critics said she was behaving ‘like royalty’ and warned it will go down ‘like a lead balloon’ with islanders desperate for better ferry services. Rum is served by CalMac as part of its Small Isles route, but its usual vessel has been redeployed because of chaos elsewhere on the ferry network, with limits currently on how many passengers can travel.

The fare for the 85minute crossing would have cost Ms Slater £4.70. The Scottish Government has refused to say how much it is paying for the private charter.

Donald Cameron, Conservati­ve MSP for the Highlands and Islands, said: ‘Lorna Slater’s hypocrisy and lack of selfawaren­ess is breathtaki­ng. The Greens are forever lecturing the public on the need to use public transport, yet she is happy for the Scottish Government to charter a private boat to take her to and from Rum.

‘Her excuse for doing so – that, essentiall­y, the CalMac timetable doesn’t suit – will go down like a lead balloon with island communitie­s.

‘Those who rely on lifeline ferry services don’t have the luxury of hiring a private boat to travel.

‘Instead, they are dependent on an ageing and unreliable CalMac fleet that they have been lumbered with because of the scandalous incompeten­ce of the government Lorna Slater is at the centre of. Her

tone-deaf indifferen­ce to them is another kick in the teeth to betrayed islanders.’

Ms Slater is due to arrive on Rum at around 10am today and will depart at approximat­ely 2.30pm.

She will travel on a catamaran chartered from Western Isles Cruises. The vessel is expected to be the MV Larven, which can carry 42 passengers.

One SNP politician told the Mail: ‘Those Greens are demonstrat­ing another spectacula­r display of hypocrisy. They’re forever lecturing the rest of us on using public transport, and Lorna Slater goes and uses a private charter.

‘I know they don’t like the royals but they act like royalty themselves. They

‘Kick in the teeth to betrayed islanders’

clearly think CalMac ferries – which they actually run – are for plebs, like the expendable fishermen whose livelihood­s they want to destroy.’

Publicly funded CalMac’s timetable means that if Ms Slater wanted to return on the same day she would spend less time on Rum than if she chartered a private boat.

A warning on its website states: ‘Due to MV Loch Bhrusda providing additional support in the Outer Isles, Spanish John [ferry] will be operating for vehicles and freight and MV Larven will operate the passenger-only service to the Small Isles on Saturdays.

‘Passenger numbers will be limited, and pre-booking is essential.’

The Scottish Government said Ms Slater will meet islanders to discuss key issues ‘including the future of Kinloch Castle’ after its sale fell through.

City financier and Tory Party donor Jeremy Hosking was set to buy the former hunting lodge from government agency Nature Scot but the Isle of Rum Community Trust claimed there was a lack of informatio­n about his plans.

Mr Hosking pulled out of the purchase in March this year, claiming he was ‘fed up being a pawn in a game’ between Nature Scot’s ‘sensible head’ and ‘the anarchy head’ of biodiversi­ty minister Ms Slater’s department.

He said at the time: ‘I have tried to speak to Ms Slater but got no reply. Enough is enough. It’s the Greens who have completely crushed a conservati­on project. It’s unbelievab­le.’

A Government spokesman said: ‘She

‘Acting like she is born to rule’

[Ms Slater] will be travelling with members of the Isle of Rum Community Trust, as well as Nature Scot and Scottish Government staff, by a charter operated by Western Isles Cruises.

‘This will maximise time on the island and support a small local business.’

Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie said: ‘Lorna Slater has been in office for less than two years but she is already acting like she is born to rule.’

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: ‘This is stunning hypocrisy from Lorna Slater. Scotland deserves better.’

Ms Slater refused to comment.

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 ?? ?? Charter: MV Larven, one of Western Isles Cruises’ vessels
Charter: MV Larven, one of Western Isles Cruises’ vessels
 ?? ?? ‘Acting like royalty’: Minister Lorna Slater
‘Acting like royalty’: Minister Lorna Slater

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