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1 October 2010

Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change commends Small Ferries Project

A reception was held at Dynamic Earth last night to mark completion of the project, which saw Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) collaborate with the Department for Regional Development in Northern Ireland and the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, to examine ideas for a common design and procurement strategy for small ferries.

With many of the vessels in service approaching or exceeding their target replacement of 25 years, the issue of maintaining and procuring new vessels and improving harbour infrastructure is key to ensuring that communities have access to lifeline ferry services which are reliable, convenient and affordable.

To ensure the continued provision of quality services, the partners have developed a Strategic Plan to help influence policy makers in the procurement of replacement ferry vessels, as part of their respective Governments’ policy commitments to supporting remote island communities.

The plan outlines a proposal for the development of a common vessel design and a cross-border collaborative approach to procuring replacement ferries, to deliver new vessels and associated improvements in harbour infrastructure. This approach would ensure cost savings in vessel procurement, allow shared expertise in researching new technologies and innovative funding mechanisms and flexibility in operation and maintenance of the fleet.

The report identifies a number of options for procurement models to look at the most cost effective and efficient approach, including joint procurement and the appointment of CMAL as the lead authority for all procurement.

Eight routes were examined during the course of the project. However, it is anticipated that the project’s findings could potentially have wider reach and benefit for other routes in the three regions.

Commenting on the completion of the project, Chairman of CMAL, Grenville Johnston said:

“We are delighted to have been involved in the Small Ferries Project, working with our partners to develop a plan which we hope will help to ensure the provision of quality ferry services in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland.

“With demand for services set to increase over the coming years and tightened budgets, it is extremely important that we explore opportunities for collaboration, to ensure increased buying power, savings on administration and the cost of the vessels and shared learning that will help us to develop a more streamlined approach to ferry procurement and operation.”

Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Stewart Stevenson added:

“The partners in the Small Ferries Project are to be commended for their collaborative cross-border approach in developing this plan which aims to improve and enhance ferry services for remote and island communities in Scotland and Ireland.

“The ferries provide a lifeline service and play a key role in supporting the economic and social vitality of these communities. Developing new methods for developing and procuring vessels will be critical to ensuring that quality services are maintained in these areas and I look forward to examining the report in more detail.”

The Small Ferries Project was part financed by the European Union’s Regional Development Fund through the INTERREG IVA Cross-border Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.
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