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By Hugh Boag
There is a real likelihood that the Arran ferry service will move to Troon for the duration of the Ardrossan Harbour improvement works.
This has emerged from the latest meeting of the Ardrossan Habour Taskforce, led by transport secretary Michael Matheson MSP, and comes amid concerns that there could be considerable disruption to services if the ferry tried to operate out of makeshift facilities at the port where £40 million-worth of improvements are planned.
However, there is no question that the ferry service would move to Troon permanently, as has previously been advocated, given the money being ploughed into Ardrossan.
A decision on a temporary move will be made by February after an as yet undefined community consultation takes place.
The taskforce had in the past always insisted that the ferry service would only use Troon as a temporary, last resort but several factors have led to a change of mind – notably the fact that the long-awaited MV Glen Sannox should be in service before work finally gets underway in early 2022.
And there are already regular disruptions when the Irish Berth is used and with the Arran Berth being realigned during the work, that would be the only one available.
In a joint statement issued after the meeting, the taskforce said: ‘The Scottish government remains committed to ensuring that ferry services continue to operate from Ardrossan in the long term, and proposals for a significant programme of capital investment in Ardrossan Harbour are being finalised.
‘In developing these proposals, concerns have been expressed over how a suitable service will be provided during the construction period, with the taskforce conscious of the impact of weather-related cancellations likely to be experienced operating from the Irish Berth, and that any disruption and lack of certainty of service would compound the impact that reduced capacity due to the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the island this year.
‘It is therefore proposed that full consideration, underpinned by analysis, will be undertaken on whether Ardrossan will continue to operate during the period of construction works, or whether Troon is used as the mainland port for a temporary period.
‘This analysis will consider issues such as service reliability given the potential for increased cancellations when vessels operate from the Irish Berth at Ardrossan, the passenger experience given variations in time and public transport connections, and cost.
‘The final decision on this will be made by the taskforce at its next meeting in February with the views of the community a key element in this process.’
Residents can find out the latest developments in the wide-ranging plans to improve facilities at Ardrossan Harbour.
The Ardrossan Harbour Taskforce – comprised of Transport Scotland, North Ayrshire Council, CalMac Ferries Limited, Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited, Peel Ports and Arran Ferry Committee – is working to deliver the comprehensive upgrade and redevelopment of Ardrossan Harbour.
This aims to improve facilities, operations and the resilience of the Ardrossan to Brodick as well as the Campbeltown ferry services.
The taskforce partners have prepared an information update on a range of elements of the overall project.
This includes an update from Peel Ports Group on the marine works, North Ayrshire Council on the land-side works, Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited on the Passenger Access System (PAS) and from CalMac Ferries Limited on ferry timetabling and service continuity. A formal consultation process on the landside work will follow in the new year.
The update on the project can be accessed at www.north-ayrshire.gov.uk/ardrossanharbour. Paper copies are available on request from ArdrossanHarbourProject@north-ayrshire.gov.uk or by calling 01294 310000.
Paper copies will also be available from Ardrossan and Brodick Libraries using the Call, Click and Collect service in the coming days. This service can be accessed as follows:
Brodick Library by calling 01770 302835 on Thursdays and Fridays from 10am to 1pm. Ardrossan Library by calling 01294 469682 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 10am to 1pm.