Investing in Scotland’s future ferry infrastructure

Kevin Hobbs, CEO

Ferries are lifeline services for Scotland’s islands; they need safe, reliable, and efficient services.

That’s why we are transforming the ferry network with a £580m investment for five years to 2026 from the Scottish Government. Our highly ambitious plans to upgrade and improve ferries and harbours will be delivered over the next decade, and plans are already in motion.

Overall, we are building 21 new vessels for the fleet. Seven of these will be loch-class vessels and will be built through the Small Vessel Replacement Programme (SVRP). This is well underway, and we will be launching SVRP Phase 2, which will see the replacement of smaller vessels for the Sounds of Mull, Barra and Iona.

We’re replacing six major vessels in the fleet, and the first of those is being built to serve Islay and Jura. We have been progressing this project for the last year, with extensive community engagement. The tender for a shipyard is expected to be issued later this summer with a view to awarding the contract, with an estimated value of around £50m, in March 2022.

Also in progress is a project to design and build three passenger-only vessels for the Gourock-Dunoon-Kilcreggan routes and planning for two new freight ferries for the Northern Isles Ferry Service, as well as two dual fuel ferries that are under construction.

We are upgrading and modernising harbours across the network to make them more passenger-friendly, sustainable, and robust against climate changes. This includes the £22m upgrade of Tarbert Ferry Terminal, due to be completed by the end of the year. We’ve had the business case for a major redevelopment of Gourock Ferry Terminal granted, and planning work is underway for a new, larger marshalling area at Port Ellen on Islay, and a significant terminal upgrade at Kennacraig.

Our plans are significant and ambitious and will involve a lot of hard work, as well as the commitment and input of key stakeholders, and we will need to secure similar multi-million-pound funding for five years from 2026.

Our team has decades of marine, civil, construction and mechanical engineering, ship design and naval architecture experience. We’re confident, with the required level of funding and commitment, our plans can be delivered in the next 10 years to ensure island and rural communities remain connected and their economies are supported.