Forbes demands urgency after car ferry services suspended on key route

SNP MSP says 'ancient relief vessel' is not a long-term solution for people who rely on the Corran Crossing in Lochaber.

Kate Forbes says a “lot more urgency” is required to help an island community without a car ferry service for up to six weeks.

The SNP MSP also said it is nonsensical to suggest that an “ancient relief vessel” is a long-term solution for people who rely on the Corran Crossing in Lochaber.

The MV Maid of Glencoul, which connects Ardnamurchan Peninsula with the mainland across Loch Linnhe, was relaunched on Monday after a weekend-long repair operation to fix an issue with its system.

But engineers discovered on Tuesday that the boat – which is operating in place of the MV Corran as it remains in dry dock for its own repairs – needs further work before it can set sail again.

Highland Council has confirmed a steering fault on the replacement vessel is more serious than previously thought.

The local authority has apologised but says it’s likely to be late September before the main ferry, the MV Corran, is repaired.

Forbes said: “The Corran ferry has been out of action now for almost a year and over the course of the last year there have been promises that it would be returning within a matter of weeks or at the end of the next month.

“And each time that deadline has been extended, and in its place we have a relief vessel that is ancient. Any suggestion that this could have been a long-term alternative is nonsense.

“Ultimately, we need to see a long-term plan to give the community hope and also a lot more urgency, putting pressure on the yard to fix the Corran ferry, so that we’re not dependent on an ancient relief vessel.”

A temporary passenger service from Ardgour to Fort William began operating earlier this week, with rib boats providing a foot passenger service free of charge.

But drivers face a near two-hour detour around the loch should they wish to go there by road.

The council’s infrastructure convener, councillor Ken Gowans said: “Whilst we appreciate this is a very disappointing setback for everyone concerned, we share the disappointment and the frustration.

“The council continues to be in consultation with both the Scottish and UK Governments and other partners, and we remain focused on working tirelessly, doing everything we possibly can to find short, medium and long-term solutions.

“It remains a priority to bring the main vessel, MV Corran back into service and the team continue to work closely with the boat yard to ensure that this remains on track to return as soon as possible.”

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