Orkney Islands Council members are being urged to add catamarans to the mix of options being considered as they plan how to replace their out-of-date Orkney Ferries fleet.
Robert Leslie, SNP candidate for the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, has sent all 21 councillors a video presentation by Dr Alf Baird that looks at the case for catamarans compared to monohull vessels. The presentation has also been circulated to members of Orkney’s 20 community councils.
Robert Leslie said:
“The subject of replacing the ancient Orkney Ferries fleet is never far from the top of the agenda among issues that Orkney Islands Council and the Scottish Government need to find agreement on.
“From an outside view, it appears that the council has approached the Scottish Government consistently with a funding plea but no clear plan for how the ferry fleet should be replaced, and there is no agreement so far on the funding of such a project.
“Catamarans are one option that could solve this problem. They’re cheaper to build than traditional monohull vessels, can carry more cargo for the same length and are cheaper to run.
“Various financial models could be used to finance a replacement project, including leasing, rather than outright ownership. Orkney is a world leader in many areas. A modern fleet of catamarans powered by renewable energy would enhance our reputation on the world stage.”
Mr Leslie said that the presentation, originally made to Orkney SNP members over a year ago, was being offered as a means of stimulating debate on the future shape of Orkney’s ferry services.
Recently, Leader of OIC James Stockan again raised the issue of Orkney’s ferries, both internal and those which provide links to the Scottish mainland. James Stockan is wanting the Scottish Government to introduce RET (Road Equivalent Tariff) on routes both for inter islands and to the mainland of Scotland.
James Stockan said:
“I’m asking the Minister to work with us in finally rolling out RET equivalent fares for Orkney – a move critical to our economic recovery, which will have an immediate impact on the daily lives of folk in some of our most fragile communities and provide a welcome boost for our tourism businesses as we look forward with hope to a brighter 2021.”
Orkney’s ageing internal ferry fleet is run by Orkney Ferries (owned by Orkney Islands Council).
The internal ferry fleet has recently had added to it the Nordic Sea which is small passenger only .
Pentland Ferries also operates a catamaran on its route from St Margaret’s Hope to Gills Bay in Scotland
Robert Leslie added
“This isn’t presented as a fully-worked solution to the current Orkney Ferries issue, but merely as a potential option to add to any others being considered by OIC. “