‘Huge hole’ in Arran ferry report

April 5, 2017

Grave doubts have emerged over the credibility of the report advising the Scottish Government on the future of the Arran ferry.

ABP, owner of the Port of Troon, has written to the Scottish Government, highlighting major failings in the report and calling on the Transport Minister Humza Yousaf to undertake further study before making a final decision.

ABP cautioned the Scottish government that any future deal must guarantee service reliability improvements and that no further costs will be borne by fare-payers or taxpayers. This could happen in the event that additional expenditure is needed on the Port of Ardrossan in order to accommodate the new vessel. At present, the report overlooks this key point and does not model whether the Port of Ardrossan can handle the new vessel.

There is no detail on whether a break clause will be included in the new deal allowing the Scottish Government and fare-payers to leave should the required investment fail to materialise.

The report also fails to highlight how Ardrossan’s proposals do not include a new breakwater, a berth extension, lack a commitment to fund a passenger access system and the potential for the new passenger terminal not to be built for eight years.

The full detail of ABP’s concerns is being released today, but the key failings include:

• The significant potential for spiralling costs to the Scottish Government and fare-payers has been completely overlooked.
• The report completely fails to tackle the primary issue of port resilience.
• Significant investments likely required by Ardrossan’s port infrastructure have been omitted.
• It is not possible to analyse important details contained in the report since they are redacted. In many instances it is not clear how this can be justified.
• Key questions around the deliverability of Ardrossan’s proposals have not been answered.
• The report fails to highlight the extent of the superiority of Troon’s onward connections.
• Analysis of the socio-economic impact has been completely focussed on Ardrossan, with negligible analysis of the potential for positive impact on Arran or Troon.

Stuart Cresswell, Manager at ABP Port of Troon, said: “We are genuinely shocked that the report hasn’t modelled the performance of the new vessel at Ardrossan, where vessels already struggle to berth. Or that Calmac masters have not been consulted. The report therefore fails to give any proper view of the likely true cost of additional investment in Ardrossan and the comparative cost analysis presented is dangerously misleading as a result.

“Many of the numbers behind the conclusions in the report are hidden from view and many of the conclusions are also driven principally by assertion rather than a proper, robust and transparent evidence base.

“As a result, the report has a huge hole in the middle of it and completely lacks credibility.

“We urge the Scottish Government to commission further research to address this hole before making any further decisions.

”It is paramount that tax payer and fare payers do not end up in a situation where they are forced to foot the bill for spiralling costs.”