Transport Scotland launches Islands Connectivity Plan

A strategic plan to improve the reliability and resilience of transport links for island communities has been published.

The Islands Connectivity Plan (ICP) Strategic Approach sets out a long term vision of how ferry services, supported by other transport modes, will be delivered and improved in the future. It will replace the current Ferries Plan but will be wider in scope, also taking account of aviation and fixed links, as well as onward and connecting travel.

Key actions include:

  • Improving the reliability of our ferry services by modernising the CMAL fleet, reducing the average age of the vessels to around 15 years by the end of the decade.
  • Building the resilience of the ferry network by increasing standardisation of vessels and ports.
  • Refreshed transport connectivity needs assessments for island and peninsula communities served by the Clyde & Hebrides and Northern Isles Ferry Services.
  • Detailed appraisals of fixed link proposals for Sound of Harris, Sound of Barra and Mull.

Alongside the draft ICP Strategic Approach, a refreshed Vessels and Ports plan for the Clyde & Hebrides and Northern Isles Ferry Services is also being published. Transport Scotland will be consulting on both these documents.

Minister for Transport Fiona Hyslop said: “Islanders have made clear to me that they have, and deserve to have, high expectations of transport services to meet their connectivity needs. They want a system that can deliver reliability and resilience in challenging weather environments as a result of the changing climate.

“The Islands Connectivity Plan sets out to capture the transport connectivity needs for islanders and ferry users on mainland peninsulas. it recognises that we must ensure our islands remain attractive places to live, to visit and to relocate to.

“The Island Connectivity Plan looks at a wide range of issues, from improving fleet reliability and monitoring performance, to reducing carbon emissions and making future contracts more flexible to respond to community needs. It also considers aviation and fixed links.

“As always, the views of island communities and stakeholders will be key to this process. My officials will be hosting a series of engagement events across our networks and an online consultation will be carried out to ensure the views of the people that rely on our island transport links are heard and incorporated into this work.

“The Scottish Government is absolutely committed to ensuring that transport connectivity to our islands is reliable, affordable and inclusive to support the economic and population growth of these communities and this Island Connectivity Plan sets out a comprehensive plan to follow on from the six new vessels being delivered by 2026.”

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