Highlands & Islands

Western Isles firms join ferry fares campaign

Lorry on a ferry
Image caption Haulage firms have expressed concerns about increased travel costs

About 40 companies in the Western Isles have signed up to a campaign asking the Scottish government not to remove discounted ferry travel for hauliers.

The Outer Hebrides Transport Group said removing road equivalent tariff (RET) from freight would lead to a 175% increase in travel costs from April.

Local authority Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is backing the group's call.

SNP MSP Alasdair Allan said Transport Minister Keith Brown has agreed to meet with hauliers.

The isles MSP hosted a meeting with hauliers and other islands companies earlier this month.

RET sets fares to the equivalent cost for travelling the distance by road.

A pilot project has been running in the Western Isles, Coll and Tiree since October 2008 and is due to end in spring 2012.

The Scottish government plans to continue the scheme and roll it out to other routes.

Mr Allan is arranging the meeting between haulage firm bosses and Mr Brown.

The MSP said: "It is very clear both from the meeting I chaired recently in the Western Isles and from the correspondence I have had since, that many companies in the islands want to raise this directly and urgently with the transport minister.

"I believe it is right that the companies which will be affected by changes to the fair structure have a chance to voice their concerns directly.

"They have indicated that these concerns include what they feel was a lack of consultation around the decisions and the impact which this will have on their companies."

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