Campaign launched as ‘crucial’ ferry service needs £20m infrastructure upgrade

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SHETLAND Islands Council has launched a new campaign supporting the case for increased investment in the isles’ internal ferry service.

The local authority said that an estimated £37 million is needed for the service, which it described as being the social and economic ‘backbone’ of the islands.

Of the £37 million, £20 million worth of ‘urgent’ work is required to replace harbours across the route, while the remaining sum would go towards upgrades to the ferries.

A Twitter hashtag, ‘#MyFerry’, has been launched to mark the campaign, with the council preparing case studies to be shared with politicians and organisations.

Steven Coutts, leader of the Shetland Islands Council, said, “We are highlighting how crucial our ferries are to people in our island communities, to live their lives in the best way they can. Our internal ferry services are critical in the support they provide to our economy and we’re hopeful we can persuade the Scottish Government to increase its funding, which we believe is a lifeline for our people as well as an investment for Scotland as a whole.

“What we’re asking for is sufficient funding to preserve the service we have, to upgrade those routes which need it with new vessels and infrastructure, and to take advantage of new technologies to develop our internal links into the future. I’d like to emphasise that this is not about any future fixed links, but about the present challenges being faced by our ferry fleet and the wider council finances.

“We’re hoping that the hashtag will be shared widely by our community in the weeks ahead so that people all over the country can see the lifeline these ferries offer us, and the economic opportunities they unlock for Scotland.”