Shetland MSP and Scottish Liberal Democrat, Beatrice Wishart, has questioned the First Minister on the impact of limited ferry freight capacity to the Northern Isles. Ms Wishart stressed that without sufficient infrastructure there can be no economic growth.
During First Minister’s questions Ms Wishart highlighted the reputational damage caused to some businesses who are unable to meet their obligations due to difficulties with ferry freight bookings, either not available when needed or forward bookings changed at the last minute.
Over the summer Ms Wishart and Orkney MSP, Liam McArthur, wrote to the Transport Minister highlighting concerns about autumn capacity on the Northern Isles routes following CalMac’s charter of M/V Arrow. As well as letters to the Scottish Government, Ms Wishart raised it again with the Cabinet Secretary for the Islands earlier in September.
After the question time Ms Wishart said:
“Ferry freight capacity issues are long running, completely foreseeable and avoidable. This is the third member of the Scottish Cabinet I have asked to look into this.
“No business would like their reputation damaged by something that was outwith their control. Yet some businesses in Shetland are suffering through this reality.
“The Scottish Government must tackle this to ensure that freight capacity demands are met and economic growth isn’t stifled.”
Notes to Editors
Ms Wishart’s question to the First Minister (check against delivery):
Reputational damage is being caused to some Shetland businesses as Transport Scotland fails to address the needs, of adequate year-round ferry freight capacity. A removals company with forward bookings cancelled, resulted in a house owner sitting on the floor in their new empty home, just one recent example. There can be no economic growth without sufficient infrastructure. But this matter has been raised before and the response is that pinch points are recognised, and all options are being considered. There is growing frustration and anger in the isles that no interim solution has been found. So can the First Minister indicate what Transport Scotland does with the freight information that stakeholders in the Northern Isles provide to it, and when is the Scottish Government going to address this very serious problem?
You can see details of Ms Wishart‘s question to the Cabinet Secretary for the Islands in September here.
You can see Ms Wishart and Mr McArthur’s letter to the Cabinet Secretary here.