Date lodged: 5 September 2017
To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with (a) Orkney Ferries and (b) trade unions regarding the future funding and provision of inter-island ferry services on the Orkney Isles.
Answered by: Humza Yousaf 31 October 2017
The Ferries Plan 2013-22 committed that the Scottish Government is willing to consider taking on responsibility for local authority lifeline ferry services, and set out the principles involved for such a transfer to move forward. The Plan indicated that assessment would be made on a case-by-case basis and that ultimately it may not always be agreed that a transfer of responsibility goes ahead. The Plan also indicated that the Scottish Government could not guarantee to be in a position to provide any additional funding.
Following publication of the Ferries Plan, Transport Scotland has been in discussion with a number of local authorities regarding their internal ferry services.
Responsibility for Orkney Islands Council's internal ferries remains with the local authority, but our pledge of further dialogue on this issue shows we remain committed to the principle of fair funding in the provision of ferry services and ferry infrastructure. Orkney Islands Council has submitted a funding request for 2018-19 and this will be considered as part of the on-going Spending Review. Scottish Government funding for Orkney's internal ferry services is not in our budget plans at present. However, we would welcome further engagement with the Council as the priorities of the Spending Review are finalised.
The Scottish Government is not in direct contact with the Council’s ferry operating company, or the trade unions.