Will the New Islay Ferry run from Oban in the Future?

The story of the new Islay Ferry that doesn't fit Port Ellen, Kennacraig or Port Askaig continuous, as was expected. And now a whole new theory has been published in the Ileach, a theory that the new Islay Ferry will sail from Oban. Is it a strange idea? I don't think so, in fact during my last visit on Islay several people mentioned this option. Is it feasable? Yes I think so, although there is one major issue that would speak against it.... In my opinion a ferry service from Oban to Islay is much more likely to be cancelled due to adverse weather than the more sheltered route from Kennacraig to Port Askaig. A look at the map will show you why. Now back to the story in last weeks Ileach titled "A wild conspiracy theory?":

Carl Reavey: The silence from politicians since the Ileach broke the news about the new Islay ferry not fitting Port Ellen pier has been deafening. This is despite the story running in the national media, including BBC television news. Our own Councillor Robin Currie has since had access to First Minister Alex Salmond no less, but chose to press him on the subject of the interconnector between Carradale and Hunterston rather than ferry ports. We have heard not one word on the subject of Port Ellen ferry terminal from our political leaders. Continue reading....Perhaps we should remind them of the story so far. We had it in writing that the new ferry would fit Port Ellen as it exists now. It will not. We had it in writing that the new ferry would fit the new Port Askaig. It will not (although this can be fixed with expenditure of more of our money, allegedly less than £1 million, although that may be optimistic). We still have it in writing that the new ferry will fit Kennacraig. But we now know that this too is “not ideal” with or without an intransigent sunken barge.

So how can we be sure that, despite these written assurances, the new ferry will actually fit Kennacraig? Given what has gone before, the question surely has to be asked again. And what if it does not? A clear, unequivocal answer is required because conspiracy theorists might start to wonder if certain politicians are not arguing that truly colossal sums of money could be saved by operating the new Islay ferry from Oban to Port Askaig instead of from Kennacraig. If the new £21 million Islay ferry does not fit Kennacraig either, then that is surely game, set and match to these people...

Just think, they will be saying, - no capital expenditure on ferry ports would then be required. There is nothing to suggest that CMAL’s estimate of £38 million for upgrades to Kennacraig and Port Ellen will turn out to be any different to any other Government agency’s estimate for this kind of thing, which, on past performance, will end up costing three times as much. Look at the final cost of Port Askaig compared to the original estimate. Or the cost of Oban Airport. There would be big operational savings too - with two fewer shore operations to run.

To some politicians, using Oban as the gateway to Islay would be very tempting. Oban already has two linkspans and a smart new terminal building with plenty of capacity. Fuel costs would rise a bit of course, along with journey times to Islay, but hey!! Those Ileachs would be getting direct access to a railhead and the hundreds of thousands of tourists that use the town as a hub.... They might make a bit of a fuss for a while, but there are only around 3,500 of them - which is electorally barely significant. Indeed some Argyll politicians might lick their lips at the thought of the extra business that would inevitably be sucked into Oban if the Ileachs had to use the port.... Indeed some politicians might gain more votes in Oban than they lost on Islay as a result of the move.

Just a wild conspiracy theory. It will be very easily quashed... Particularly if the “commercially confidential” Business Cases for Port Ellen and Kennacraig were published.

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