Ferry advisory group scrapped as Østergaard starts new job

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The Scottish government has scrapped the once influential Ferry Industry Advisory Group which it considers has run its course.

But with the west coast facing the worst ferry crisis in living memory it has raised questions as to the long term strategy of future ferry procurement.

Two prominent members of the advisory group were the respected consultants Roy Pederson and Alf Baird, who were still being quoted by the national press this week as being members of the group, despite it being formally disbanded last month. The group last met in October 2019.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: ‘The Ferry Industry Advisory Group was set up to bring interested stakeholders together, rather than to specifically take decisions on policy development. It was decided to stop meetings because the members, by mutual consent, felt that the format needed a refresh.

‘A ferries stakeholder engagement strategy is being prepared looking in detail at the engagement structures around projects, operational matters and policy development.’

The disbandment coincides with the arrival of the new chairman at CalMac parent company David MacBrayne Ltd (DML), Eric Østergaard, who started work last week.

There was some surprise when the announcement was made last month as Mr Østergaard had been the chairman of CalMac ferry owners Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) eight years, a post he has now relinquished.

He is expected to be closely involved in a review of the delivery of ferry services in Scotland, known as Project Neptune, which is already underway by the Scottish government, which could see a shake-up of all the bodies currently involved in providing the lifeline services.

Transport Scotland told the Banner last month: ‘This report will present a framework consisting of a range of options designed to enhance the functioning of the tripartite governance arrangement.

‘This work has included a review of ferry models across the world where there are a number of different types of operation.’