South Islay Development (SID) presents the arguments for maintaining the status quo
There are now only two weeks left until the 30th March deadline for the public to respond to the Scottish Ferry Review Consultation document. Once the consultation period comes to a close there will be no more opportunity to comment and decisions will be made which have the potential to drastically affect life for islanders over the next ten years. In the introduction to the document the importance of the public response is emphasised: â€œYour views and opinions are vital to inform the Final Ferries Plan. Our aim is to publish a Final Ferries Plan in 2012 which will provide clear strategic guidance for the provision of ferry services in Scotland, through to 2022.â€
Two Calmac Ferries in Port Ellen
South Islay Development are particularly concerned by the proposal to reduce sailings to Port Ellen as outlined in the following extract: â€œWe intend to run more services from Port Askaig and fewer services from Port Ellen than was the case before the suspension of services from Port Ellen. Port Ellen is an important facility for grain delivery and storage. We will run enough services to ensure that it continues to operate effectively and contributes to the local economy. But in shifting the balance of services to Port Askaig we are recognising Port Askaigâ€™s ideal geographical location for both the communities of Islay and Jura.â€
Since the Ferries Review Document was first published in December 2011 the strength of feeling against the proposal to reduce sailings to Port Ellen has become clear, but this feeling must be conveyed directly to the decision makers or it will not be taken into consideration. The petition started by South Islay Development now has over 850 signatures between the online petition and hard copies and this is a great start but it is vital that as many people as possible also respond directly to the proposal explaining that any reduction in the number of ferries coming to Port Ellen would have severe negative economic and social impacts on Port Ellen and Islay as a whole. Continue reading....
How to make your views heard:
1) Respond to the consultation document in order to inform the Scottish Government of your view. This can be done online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/QZ25CFT Question 21 is about Islay.
2) Email our constituency MSP, Mike Russell, and tell him you have completed the consultation document (he needs to understand the strength of opposition to this proposal in order to come to a view as constituency MSP) His email address is: Michael.Russell.email@example.com
3) Email the Islay Community Council and its Ferry Usersâ€™ Group to ensure they are aware of your views for its formal response to the consultation. Its email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
4) To make sure that your views are heard also email the following: Keith Brown MSP (Minister for Transport) email@example.com Colin Grieve (Transport Scotland) firstname.lastname@example.org, Alan Reid MP email@example.com and South Islay Development Kirstenfirstname.lastname@example.org to aid with the official SID response to the review.
If you donâ€™t have access to a computer then you can write your response directly to the following address:
Edinburgh EH6 6QQ
The beautiful village of Port Ellen
A reduction in sailings to Port Ellen could be devastating for the social and economic vitality of Kildalton and Oa and the island as a whole. Some key issues are listed below but SID would urge individuals and businesses to draw on their own experiences and opinions while compiling a response:
- Negative impact to businesses from reduced trade and increased costs in what HIE have recognised as a fragile economic area.
- Negative impact to tourism in an area with a high proportion of B&Bs, distilleries and tourism related businesses.
- Increased road transport (passenger and haulage) between Port Ellen and Port Askaig.
- Additional expense and inconvenience for over a third of the islandâ€™s community to access transport links.
- Less accessibility to the South of the island for foot passengers and cyclists.
- Port Ellen pier unable to realise its full potential despite being redeveloped at great expense.
- Recent developments and feeling of momentum in South Islay stifled or even reversed through the reduction of ferry services. Good transport links are essential to the growth and development of a rural community.
Islay needs to maintain two ports and two ferries to maximise economic and social development island-wide. If any area of Islay experiences a decline it will have knock-on effects for the wider island community. Without direct and prompt action there is a real danger that Port Ellen will suffer a reduction in ferry services, but it has been emphasised repeatedly that overwhelming opposition from the local community will be listened to and used to inform the final ferries plan so please take the time to make your views heard before the 30th March.