Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil, yesterday met with representatives from CalMac regarding the re-routing of vehicle traffic to Uig in Skye.

Last week CalMac produced a timetable which will see the Ullapool port closed for vehicles from 22 February 2015 for 6 weeks.  This closure is due to works required at the Ullapool port and during this time vehicles and freight will be re-directed to Uig.

Concern has been raised locally about the lack of consultation with stakeholders.

Angus MacNeil said:

“Ferry users are rightly annoyed that this situation has arisen, CalMac have not consulted on these proposals and yesterday I was able to relay these concerns to CalMac.

“Whilst islanders understand that the works at Ullapool port are necessary, the timing of the closure is a huge problem as it takes place during the Easter holiday period.  Had some thought been given to this a few months earlier, the work might have been able to get underway sooner.

“At the very best, there seems to be a lack of communication between the civil engineering around Ullapool Harbour and the use of the Harbour by passengers and vehicles.  This whole situation has the hallmark of being rushed and if the work cannot be brought forward to the January-March timeframe, rather than impacting on the Easter period, then a serious evaluation should be made as to whether the solution to a possible problem is larger than the problem itself, and perhaps the MV Clipper Ranger needs to be kept on for a longer period.

“I have also asked CalMac to look at the possibility of floating linkspans which could be used when resilience is needed, and also for comparative data on the vehicle carrying capacity to Lewis for the same 6 week period in 2014.

“Over and above that, we have to be certain that the MV Loch Seaforth can meet the demand that was being dealt with not only by the MV Isle of Lewis but also the MV Clipper Ranger.  Also bearing in mind that there is a difference in CalMac’s definition between sailings that are considered fully booked and boats that are actually travelling full of vehicles.

“I highlighted the concerns of businesses regarding the freight ferry timetable and I impressed upon CalMac the importance of engaging with stakeholders who so far have been ignored.  We cannot see a situation where the tourist industry, businesses and communities suffer and the timing of the work must be reviewed by Transport Scotland and perhaps delayed.”