The first meeting of the Ardrossan Harbour Taskforce has been convened by Minister for Transport and Islands, Derek Mackay.

The group, which is made up of all of the harbour’s key stakeholders, has been set up to look at measures to improve the operation of the harbour.

It will also consider any infrastructure work required for the entry into service of the new 100-metre ferry that has been earmarked for the Ardrossan-Brodick route and is currently under construction at Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited.

Mr Mackay said:

“We are committed to supporting our lifeline ferry services and providing the best possible service for the communities that rely on them.

“With this in mind, I want to ensure Ardrossan Harbour operates as effectively as possible and is ready for the arrival of the new 100-metre ferry that’s being built for the Ardrossan-Brodick route.

“It’s no secret the harbour is susceptible to bad weather, so we will consider ways to improve its resilience in times of difficult conditions.

“By gathering all the key stakeholders together, we aim to identify actions that we can take to make sure the harbour realises its full potential. Today’s meeting is the first step in that process.

“We had great success with a taskforce which was set up to bring developments on the Stornoway-Ullapool ferry route back on track, and a similar partnership approach in this case will allow us to address some of the key issues at the harbour.”

Douglas Coleman, Programme Director at Peel Ports Group, said:

“We acknowledge the importance of the lifeline ferry link between Ardrossan and Brodrick and are pleased to form part of the Scottish Government Taskforce to explore future opportunities.”

Willie Gibson, leader of North Ayrshire Council, said:

“These are really exciting times for Arran, Ardrossan and, of course, North Ayrshire.

“The introduction of the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) has led to an incredible rise in the number of people using the service with over one million passengers using the ferry last year.

“That’s a phenomenal number of people. We have to build on that and make sure this is sustainable for years to come.

“The new ferry will be in place for 2018 and it’s important we have the infrastructure in place to support this and to ensure passengers have a reliable and secure crossing.

“The partners within the Taskforce all recognise this so I’m delighted we’re all working collectively to capitalise on the potential we have here in North Ayrshire.”

Tom Docherty, Chief Executive of Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) said:

“We look forward to working with the owner of Ardrossan Harbour and the other stakeholders on this taskforce to ensure we have a safe harbour, fit for purpose and that can accommodate a wider variety of vessels in our fleet, including the new dual fuel ferry.”

CalMac’s director of operations, Drew Collier said:

“We look forward to working with our partners on this steering group to ensure that we continue to provide a modern, reliable ferry service that closely meets the needs of the communities we serve.”

Background info:

– The meeting took place at North Ayrshire Council headquarters.

– It was chaired by the Minister for Transport and Islands. Representatives from Transport Scotland, Peel Ports, CMAL, CalMac and North Ayrshire Council were also present.

– Minutes of the meeting, and subsequent meetings, will be published in due course.

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