NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Call for action over Orkney ferry problem

Hamnavoe tied up
Image caption The ferry Hamnavoe requires repairs

Orkney Islands Council has called for urgent action after the ferry service to Scrabster was taken out of action due to mechanical problems.

The Hamnavoe has suffered engine problems and could be out of action for a month.

Operator Serco NorthLink said there were no plans to bring in one of its other two ferries as a replacement.

This leaves Pentland Ferries as the sole operator across the firth, sailing from Gills Bay to St Margaret's Hope.

Orkney Island Council convener Steven Heddle said: "We have discussed the situation with Serco NorthLink Ferries at the highest level and we are also in contact with the Scottish government.

"We have made it clear that the council expects alternative arrangements to be put in place on the Stromness-Scrabster route as a matter of urgency."

He said there must not be an extended break in service on the route.

"As far as the council is concerned, that would be totally unacceptable," he added.

Orkney Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur said "urgent answers" were needed about ensuring "continuity of service on this lifeline route".

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