Council responds to Islands Connectivity Plan

Investment (in island transport) must be prioritised to ensure that essential core services are provided to all communities.

This is just one of the points made by Argyll and Bute Council in its official response to the Scottish Government’s Public Consultation for Islands Connectivity Plan (ICP), which sets out a long-term vision of how ferry services, supported by other transport modes, will be delivered and improved in the future.

As part of its response, the council also included the following key principles:

  • Future ferry services must be promoted on the basis they are affordable, reliable, and sustainable and offer a high-quality service that integrates with other transport links.
  • Communities should have a greater say in the development of timetables.
  • Lifeline services should be funded with a clear identification of future needs. Services must be future-proofed to allow the full economic potential to be realised over time, and to ensure that any increase in fares does not adversely impact the economy.
  • Funding, fares and subsidy – funding of transport infrastructure and services is a key barrier. Without adequate funding, we will see a continued contraction of rural public transport services.
  • Whilst the concept in principle for fixed links is welcome, more clarity is needed on this. The council is about to commence works to replace Craignure Pier and carry out associated shore side infrastructure, and a fixed link could have a large impact on this. A fixed link to Mull, whilst bringing opportunities, would also have the potential to increase vehicular traffic on the existing ‘fragile’ road network.

The council also highlighted the significantly important role that air services play in supporting fragile island communities and expressed the need for a national Scottish Air Services Review, similar to the Scottish Ferries Review.

The council’s Policy Lead for Islands, Councillor Robin Currie, said: “The reliability and resilience of lifeline ferry services are therefore critical for our island communities who often depend on them to access key services, education and employment opportunities.

“Local ferry and air services are essential to support a sustainable, well-connected economy in Argyll and Bute. We want to ensure therefore that our area’s interests are taken account of in any national activity that could support them. ”

You can view the council’s feedback in full on the council website.

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