New ferry ‘bears no comparison’ to what is needed for Arran route

Convener Edward Mountain taking evidence at the committee inquiry.

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Island views for the design of the new Arran ferry, MV Glen Sannox, were completely ignored, the Isle of Arran Ferry Committee has said.

It says that the vessel which will finally be delivered, four years late, bears no  comparison to what was requested for the Ardrossan to Brodick route.

The committee’s comments come in its response to the rural economy and connectivity committee report published last month by convener Edward Mountain, which, as reported in the Banner, called the management process for the new Arran ferry and her sister ship at the now-nationalised Ferguson Marine shipyard a ‘catastophic failure’.

The response from chairman Iain Thomson states: ‘Arran Ferry Committee welcomes the RECC report which gives justification to much of what the Arran Ferry Committee and Arran community have been saying for quite some time – namely that islanders’ views ‘have not been given weight in decision making’ and must be given ‘a much stronger role in providing input to the design of future new ferries’ and that ‘a better balance in decision making’ should be in place.

‘What is being delivered bares no comparison to what was requested for our route.

‘When the final vessel designs were communicated, they were advised as being designed for the routes when all aspects of the service were considered, which has subsequently been shown to be incorrect with a requirement for further investment in port infrastructure at Ardrossan now being necessary to accommodate the new vessel.

‘It may be too late to influence any significant changes to current vessel design, and we must hope that the indications for improved service levels from the investments delivers the much-needed resilience which is required to aid the island’s recovery and future sustainability.

‘AFC also notes that the report ‘supports a recommendation for a more standardised approach to the design and for the construction of smaller ferries as a means of improving network resilience, reducing costs and increasing frequency of services,’ and we are very willing to participate in any such discussions to ensure future designs and services provide value for money for the public purse and address the environmental challenges for the future.

‘Questions of design, rate of fleet replacement and energy sources all need to be considered in a timely manner with a commitment from government to commit to a future policy statement which all island communities will rely on for their future sustainability.

‘Arran Ferry Committee will continue to voice views from the community and work with all parties to ensure that, from this calamitous episode, lessons are learned and we can finally receive the levels of service and capacity which we have not enjoyed for some time.’

The Isle of Arran Ferry Committee logo.