Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil, has said today called for clarity quickly on the new proposed ferry fares for hauliers if the government continues with its current proposal to get rid of RET for lorries.  Mr MacNeil also argues that with the demise of MacAskill Haulage it shows the importance of keeping RET for hauliers in the Western Isles.

Angus MacNeil said:

“I fear that if RET is replaced for the hauliers then we may see other hauliers going to the wall as well, as costs are going up for everything transported to the islands.

“In the current climate the situation in the business world locally and nationally is tough, and especially for hauliers. Last week’s news, that one of the largest haulage companies in the North of Scotland, MacAskill Haulage of Lewis, went into receivership, underlines the case to keep RET for hauliers, or I fear that we may see other hauliers being forced out of business as well and competition being lost.

“I have been bombarded with hauliers warning that the cost of everything from “a can of dog food to a kit house” will be affected.   While civil servants were perpetuating the myth that hauliers did not want RET, more and more hauliers are in fact joining in the campaign group “Hauliers for RET.

“While some people think that RET were discounts that were not passed on, I think the plight of MacAskill Haulage shows certainly that huge profits were not being made and obviously MacAskill’s by their demise shows that this can’t be true.

“Costs have not risen over the years despite the increase in fuel prices because of RET, this gave the islands almost the same chance as the mainland.  Also, it must be remembered that the ferry cost was only part of the journey so 40% off the ferry fare was not 40% off the journey particularly as fuel prices keep rising.

“Long before I was elected we understood our biggest barrier to trade was transport costs we must maintain costs at RET rates or have a discount in place for distant islands similar to RET.

“It is imperative that the Minister engages with hauliers over this important issue.  While there is a meeting on 16th January with Civil servants from the Shipping Department, I am urging Minister for Transport Keith Brown MSP, the decision maker, to meet with Hauliers in early January before this situation becomes acute.”