Highlands & Islands Regional MSP, Rhoda Grant asked The Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, Mike Russell MSP, during the Brexit statement in the Scottish Parliament yesterday, (18th December) what plans they had for opening up new freight routes to the continent for Scottish produce in the event of a No Deal Brexit. She went on to ask which Ports and routes are the Scottish Government looking at as alternatives to Dover and what boats are they hoping to procure given they cannot find boats to fulfil their own routes and services?
The Cabinet Secretary advised that the Government would have no trouble finding boats as they were different to the ones required for the Western Isles and easily found.
Rhoda Grant said “ This is rather ironic. The boat we asked for to cover the Western Isles route from Ullapool to Stornoway was a freight ferry which would in turn free up the Loch Seaforth as a passenger ferry.
“It would appear when there is a need for a freight vessel to be found to provide lifeline services to the Western Isles, a ferry cannot be found. However, when we require to move freight to the continent from Scotland, that’s no bother and a number can easily be found. This just shows the level of regard the Scottish Government have for the needs of the economy in the Western Isles.
Rhoda Grant concluded “While they are right to make contingencies for a No Deal Brexit and getting our produce to Europe, I would expect them to have the same regard for our fragile island communities who need reliable and accessible lifeline services.