The cost of running the internal ferry networks in Orkney and Shetland is becoming a burden which the 2 councils cannot really be expected to continue carrying. Public transport is a strategic national issue and should be treated as such.
I would like to suggest a parallel strategy to tackle the issue.
Firstly the Scottish Government provide ring fenced resources to run the internal ferry services to the same level as that provided to CalMac, including staff in Orkney and Shetland receiving the same remuneration levels as Calmac staff.
Secondly that the Scottish government fund the design and build by a Scottish shipyard of a Hydrogen/Electric ferry. This could be tested on the Kirkwall to Eday route, utilising the hydrogen which is produced on Eday by electricity from the Community wind turbine and the marine renewable energy device sited off the coast of Eday.
If this proved as successful as I imagine, it would save a fortune in fuel and maintenance costs, and Scotland would have a new industry proving low carbon propulsion systems for shipping.
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