SNP plea

Blackford calls on MoD to provide ferry service

Vital service: MV Corran

SNP MP Ian Blackford has asked the the Ministry of Defence to provide a temporary service for communities left stranded by Scotland’s ferry crisis.

Mr Blackford, the party’s former Westminster leader, has made the unusual request to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, after vessels were taken in for a six-week repair.

There have been warnings that companies are at risk of going bust if there is further disruption to ferry services.

Council-run services have been disrupted and families unable to meet, while suppliers and commuters have lost vital connections.

A reduced service has been running since January while the route’s main ferry, the MV Corran, is under maintenance. MV Maid of Glencoul — a smaller, older ferry — had been covering the five-minute crossing of Loch Linnhe until it broke down on Friday.

Those living in Fort William, Ardgour, Sunart, Ardnamurchan, Moidart, Morar, Morvern and the Isle of Mull, as well as tourists, are the main users of the service and the ferry is the busiest single-vessel route in Scotland, carrying more than 270,000 cars a year. Without the ferry, diversions involve journeys of about 42 miles.

Ian Blackford

Unusual move: Ian Blackford (pic: Terry Murden)

Mr Blackford’s appeal to Ben Wallace will prompt unionists to once again remind SNP supporters of the crucial role of the UK nations in supporting each other .

The MP for Ross, Skye & Lochaber is working with the Scottish government and Highland council to submit a formal submission for military assistance, according to The Times.

Such requests are usually made in response to large-scale emergencies such as flooding disasters or the coronavirus pandemic and the military only agrees to get involved when a public body “lacks the capability” to fulfil a task.

The Times said the MoD is looking for a suitable vessel to work the route. Mr Blackford said he was confident that a solution could be found to alleviate problems on the network.

“I will continue to work with all the agencies involved for a short-term solution to get the service moving until the MV Corran returns and also to work to make sure the long-term needs of the local population are met,” he said.

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