On 28 February 2023, CMAL appeared at the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee to provide evidence for a modern and sustainable ferry service for Scotland. The full video of the committee session is available here:


CMAL Chair Morag MacNeil presented an opening statement, summarised below :

“CMAL has 47 FTE staff, and whilst we are responsible for the asset base that supports both Northern Isles Ferry Service (NIFS) and Clyde Hebrides Ferry Service (CHFS), we work alongside internationally recognised Naval Architects, Civil Engineering and Building and Property Consultants.

We tender for consultants who can complement our professional staff, and also those who have the experience to provide first class solutions alongside the CMAL team.

As a business owned by Scottish Ministers we are committed to achieving Net Zero by 2045.

We are on a journey, along with the wider industry, to achieve Net Zero throughout our asset portfolio. We are adopting best practice in both vessel design and also within our port infrastructure. The shipping and port industry does not have all the answers to achieving Net Zero at this point in time – but significant strides are being taken by CMAL regarding reduction in carbon, emissions and particulates on vessels and also the carbon footprint of our ports. The team is here to provide as much detail as we can on our journey to net zero.

We are involved in a number of projects and groups, both internationally as well as within Scotland looking at future fuels alongside carbon reduction. You have also already heard from a number of Councils regarding the close and co-operative working relationship we have with them.

Our intention today is to look forward and show you why we’re confident that we can achieve Net Zero with the significant capital provided by the Scottish Government which now stands at £700m in a 5 year period from 2021/22 to 2025/26.

However, there have been a significant number of witnesses called to give evidence at this committee– and a number of incorrect statements have been made, which we wish to correct on the record today.

The CMAL team comprises experts in the appropriate disciplines and the team has the skills and competencies required within the business to support the existing and future ports and vessels. Our senior professionals all worked in the private sector for many years prior to joining CMAL and bring vast experience to the business and to Scotland in support of the Clyde and Hebrides and Northern Isles Networks.

We are neither a quango nor a group of amateurs.

A small number of witnesses to these hearings have chosen to over simplify the complexity of the decision making process, whilst not having the necessary knowledge or experiences to meaningfully contribute.

I would invite the committee to visit our offices in port Glasgow to meet the wider CMAL team – several of whom joined us as graduates from Scottish universities because we believe it is important to grow our own talent.

We work closely with the operator of the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services Contract, the operator of the Northern Isles Ferry Services Contract, and Transport Scotland regarding the future vessel requirements and port infrastructure requirements. Every new vessel that is proposed commences with a “statement of requirements” from the operators, and that forms the overarching basis of the vessel design. Equally this applies to our port developments – we have the experts in both areas here today to talk through these processes in more detail.

It has also been stated that it was the choice of CMAL to build dual fuel Vessels – this is not correct. CalMac produced a statement of requirements that explicitly requested dual fuel (capable of using Marine Gas Oil and Liquid Natural Gas) in a document of over 400 pages – the project at that time known as “Super Eco 1000”. There were discussions around LNG which is a transition fuel, but the operator maintained that it was an integral part of decarbonisation.”

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