Options for the future of inter-island transport in Orkney are being presented to the county’s isles communities for their feedback over coming weeks.
The Orkney Inter Island Transport Study Strategic Business Case (SBC) was commissioned in 2015 by Orkney Islands Council , in partnership with Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), to appraise options for inter-island transport and help establish and support a ‘case for change’ to the Scottish Government either for additional grant funding or the transfer of responsibility for Orkney’s internal ferry services to Transport Scotland.
The SBC was completed in October 2016 which included capital and revenue options for all 13 islands connected by air and ferry services, and a timeline for developing Outline Business Cases – work on these was carried out during 2018 and 2019.
Now, Rousay, Egilsay, Wyre and Gairsay (REW) and Outer North Isles (ONI) residents are being asked for their feedback on the ‘Outline Business Cases’ - preferred options for the future and the means by which it should be funded, procured and delivered - specific to the transport infrastructure they rely on.
The vessels serving these communities are in immediate need of replacement and findings will be presented to the Scottish Government as part of efforts to secure sustainable levels of funding for Orkney’s internal ferries. Consideration of fleet replacement for services to Shapinsay, Graemsay, Hoy and Flotta will be carried out as part of this wider future ‘Ferry Replacement Programme’.
The engagement material for consideration by communities is available on the Council website. The information will summarise the work carried out to date and will provide an opportunity for residents and key stakeholders to comment on the recommendations for future infrastructure and vessels.
While it’s not feasible for the consultants, who are Edinburgh and Glasgow based, to run face-to-face sessions with communities in the current covid climate, they intend to schedule times to liaise directly with the transport representatives of each community.
Laura Cromarty is the Council’s Transportation Manager: “There will be a slight difference in focus between the Outer North Isles and Rousay, Egilsay, Wyre engagements.
“For the Outer North Isles, we’ll be building on the 2019 Outline Business Case for capital investment in the Outer North Isles fleet and landside infrastructure, so we’ll be asking for feedback on the preferred options which have emerged through earlier work, to help determine the final business case for the preferred vessel mix, a third aircraft and timetables and service levels which could be derived by this.
“Engagement material for each island will set out an illustrative timetable and number of air and ferry connections across the week, intended to provide an indication of the level of connectivity for each of the Outer North Isles which could be provided by the preferred option. However, this is only an illustration and actual timetables would be determined through consultation with the communities.
“For Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre, we’ll be consulting on an Outline Business Case for capital investment on the route, including Gairsay – this business case is intended to develop a preferred new vessel and infrastructure solution for the route.”
The consultants will complete the final draft Outline Business Case report by the end of the summer which will then be presented to the Council and Scottish Government for consideration.
Councillor Graham Sinclair is Chair of the Council’s Development and Infrastructure Committee: “The Outline Business Case is crucial in our efforts as a Council to pursuing parity for our isles communities who deserve lifeline transport links to the standards enjoyed elsewhere in Scotland.
“Although it must seem these series of consultations have been running for a long time, it is the process we are required to follow.
“We know through our community councils we will have robust scrutiny of what we see as the emerging preferred options, but we’d urge folk in our isles communities to get involved and feed back to us on the outline business cases that affect them. We’ve extended the initial consultation from early to late August, to give everyone time to explore the engagement material and speak to their local community council or to the consultants to get any questions they have answered and to make their own views known.”
“On behalf of the Council I’d like to sincerely thank everyone across the isles who’ve contributed to the wider study throughout the various stages.”
Communities and individuals are being asked to provide feedback to the consultants by Friday 27 August 2021, which will allow the consultant team and Council to finalise the report and make the case for funding to government.
Should you have any queries or issues you would like to raise with the team, please e-mail OIITS@stantec.com or contact Fiona Duncan (0131 297 7019) who will direct you to the correct person. Fiona can also arrange to have paper copies of the slides and / or a paper copy of the survey together with a reply-paid envelope sent out to you if you would prefer this to an online response.
Securing investment in transport infrastructure in Scotland requires a ‘business case’ to be made in three stages:
- Strategic Business Case (SBC) – which develops and considers a range of options to meet an identified set of transport needs.
- Outline Business Case (OBC) – which determines the preferred option and outlines the means by which it should be funded, procured and delivered.
- Final Business Case (FBC) – which is undertaken at the point of procurement.
The Strategic Business Case involved a period of consultation in the islands with residents and key stakeholders. The SBC was completed in October 2016 which included capital and revenue options for all 13 islands connected by air and ferry services, and a timeline for progressing specific elements of the SBC to Outline Business Case (OBC) stage.
The SBC concluded that the immediate priorities to progress to Outline Business Case (OBC) were:
- Additional revenue funding to operate more services. The output of this work fed into the recent announcement of additional funding in financial year 2021/22 providing full funding to operate Inter Island Ferry Services, and in addition, from 2021/22, year round Sunday sailings and a reduction in ferry fares for Orkney Ferries’ services.
- Capital investment in new vessels and supporting infrastructure for the Outer North Isles and Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre (noting connection requirement also to Gairsay).
The OBC work was split into Phase 1 and Phase 2, with Phase 1 of the works carried out during 2018 and 2019. Phase 1 focused on the network-wide revenue requirements should service frequency and length of operating day be increased. Phase 2 considers the Outer North Isles OBC and Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre OBC. The objectives and main findings of the Outline Business Case for the Outer North Isles and Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre was considered by the Development and Infrastructure Committee on 18 May 2021.