Calmac Future Secured With EU Decision

28 October 2009
The future of ferry services to the Western and Northern Isles has been secured after the European Commission ruled that action by the Scottish Government to support the services was appropriate and that there had been no overpayment of subsidy.

The Commission has also confirmed that the ferry service between Gourock and Dunoon town centres can continue - subject to a tendering exercise.

SNP MEP Alyn Smith, who has campaigned for security for the island ferry services and for the town centre service across the Clyde said:

"After decades of jumping through EU legal hoops this is a positive decision for Scotland's remote and island communities.

"Our ferry services are essential and I welcome the Commission's confirmation that the Scottish Government's actions are right and appropriate to secure the future of our ferries.

"The pro-active approach of the Scottish Government to securing our ferries future has paid off. Confirmation from the EU that a town centre to town centre service between Gourock and Dunoon supporting these two communities can continue is good news - though there is still a need for a tendering process. I hope those operators of alternative routes who have repeatedly threatened legal action will accept this decision.

"I called for this inquiry, Now everyone involved in the service can be clear that supporting Scotland's island ferries is the right and proper thing to do.

"With the Scottish Government delivering cheaper fares to the Western Isles, long term security to all island ferries and a future on the cards for town centre services between Gourock and Dunoon this is a strong result for Scotland's island and ferry services.

Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan said:

"This is a good result for the Western Isles and for Scotland.

"For too long the previous Executive allowed our ferry services to operate in limbo. Now we have a secure future for subsidised ferry services to and from the Western Isles and other island communities.

"We have already seen the real benefits ferry services can bring with the pilot of RET bringing more visitors and more business to the Western Isles, as well as cutting costs for island residents.

"Today's successful decision by the Commission, after hearing the arguments put forward by the Scottish Government is another sign of the SNP's commitment to support our island communities."