Orkney Islands Council today welcomed an announcement from the Scottish Government on the next Northern Isles ferry contract, with Serco NorthLink named as the preferred bidder.
OIC Leader James Stockan said: “The new contract will provide our community with a lengthy period of stability in the delivery of Orkney’s lifeline links with Scrabster, Aberdeen and Lerwick.
“We have always worked well with Serco NorthLink. The company has provided an excellent service for our islands since the last contract was awarded in 2012 and we look forward to working with the company again over the lifetime of the next contract.”
Councillor Stockan added: “We wanted to see the restoration of an all-year-round middle-of-the-day service on the Stromness-Scrabster route and worked hard for this. I am disappointed that this is not included in the new contract at this stage.
“However, the Government has assured us that there is the potential to expand the contact specifications during over the years ahead and we will continue to press for the re-introduction of this service.
“While we welcome today’s announcement of future fare reductions, we also demand that the Government introduces RET (Road Equivalent Tariff) on the Pentland Firth as soon as possible. Without this we will continue to be disadvantaged compared to other areas that had RET introduced years ago.
“We are also keen to see RET-level fares brought in on Orkney’s inter-island routes, which would have a huge and positive impact on the daily lives of people living in some our most fragile communities. This is under active discussion with the Scottish Government.”