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MV Shapinsay to be made ship-shape

18/03/2011

The Scottish Government has pledged funds towards the estimated £1.5m upgrade of MV Shapinsay, the ferry serving the Orkney islands route from Kirkwall to Shapinsay, announced Cabinet Secretary, John Swinney, today.

The funding agreement follows a request from Orkney Islands Council, which has been looking at the best way to progress upgrading of the Orkney inter-island fleet. The life of the vessel will now be extended by up to 15 years with refurbished new engines, as well as be improved with increased on-board capacity.

The Government is also considering a contribution to the full ten-year ferry upgrade programme, which will be reviewed when future budgets are set.

Mr Swinney said

"I am pleased to be able to offer this funding support to Orkney Islands Council for the upgrade of the MV Shapinsay. This upgrade will mean a better service for the people of Shapinsay and Kirkwall and, by refurbishing a ship already in use, will provide value for money to the public purse.

"This is a good example of an innovative, environmentally-friendly solution to prolong the life of a working vessel and I commend the council on their resourcefulness at a time of public spending constraint.

"We will also be using this opportunity to continue discussions with the Council with regards to a contribution for their 10 year programme to upgrade the whole of the inter-island fleet."

Orkney Island Council's Vice-Convener, James Stockan, said:

"The Convener and I have met with Mr Swinney on a number of occasions to discuss our ferry replacement programme which we see as vital to meeting key Council priorities and addressing some of the problems and constraints which currently exist within our internal ferry service.

"We are pleased to accept Mr Swinney's offer and look forward to further discussions with the Scottish Government in the coming months. We are hopeful that the outcome of the Scottish Government's ferry review will address some of the inconsistencies that exist in the financing of ferry services and that we will be able to access more funding for the remainder of our vessel replacement and terminal upgrade programme."

The MV Shapinsay is 23 years old and would normally be approaching retirement, however these works to lengthen the ship by 6 metres and replace the engines will mean she will be able to continue in service for another 10-15 years.

The increased length will increase car carrying capacity from 12 to 16 and the increased weight will also remove restrictions currently applying to the transport of heavy goods vehicles. Other modifications will improve manoeuvrability and reliability.

Payment for the ferry refurbishment is to be made as a one-off capital grant from Transport Scotland's Ferries Budget under Section 70 of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2001.