Na h-Eileananan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has welcomed the confirmation from the Scottish Government that they are in discussions regarding the lease of an additional vessel for the Calmac fleet – but stresses that the option of a subsea tunnel should also be considered.

Mr MacNeil has written several times this year to the Scottish Government regarding the ageing Calmac fleet with repeated suggestions to charter MV Pentalina and has also suggested the construction of new vessels in Gdansk in Poland.

Mr MacNeil said: “I welcome that the Scottish Government is in discussions in regard to leasing an additional vessel. This is something which I have been suggesting and pressing the Scottish Government on for the last six months. I have recently heard that the Pentalina may need a not inconsiderable spend to get her into condition for even trials on the West Coast – hopefully that can be cleared up.

“The disruption to ferry services is having a massive impact on all aspects of island life and the economy.

“I welcome this step forward and hope that we will see progress very soon.

“It should be borne in mind that £500m used as 25% to lever in investment capital could build about 200km of Faroes-style undersea ferry replacement tunnels.

“Transport Scotland and the Minister should seriously look into this and at the very least speak with Faroese counterparts for learning.”