Irish sea ferry operators accuse Scottish government of jeopardizing future investment with transport review


Stena Line, P&O Ferries and Belfast Harbor have joined forces to criticize the government’s Strategic Transport Projects Second Review (STPR2), saying only three of 20 recommended improvements have been implemented.

Ferry operators have drawn up a proposal for major improvements to the A75 and A77 after pushing for improvements for decades but have now accused ministers of letting passengers down.

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In a joint statement, Paul Grant, Commercial Director, Irish Sea at StenaLine, Riccardo Tonelli, Operations Director, North Sea and Irish Sea at P&O Ferries, and Michael Robinson, Port Director of Belfast Harbour, demanded better.

Irish sea ferry operators have shared their ‘dismay’ at the Scottish Government’s transport review.

They said: “We have spent several years engaging collaboratively and privately rather than through the media.

“However, we must be clear that our business decisions are deeply influenced by the environment in which we operate.

“We have already seen evidence of customers being pushed to ports such as Heysham and Liverpool, where they encounter safer and better routes, and we cannot avoid the inevitability that STPR2 poses a significant risk to customers. future investments.

The Scottish government has only fully accepted three of the proposals, with two others partially committed.

The trio said they were “deeply appalled” by the Scottish government’s proposals after three years of talks.

They said: “We felt we had a mutual understanding of what was needed and a mutual commitment to making the necessary improvements.

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“We carry approximately 1.75 million passengers, 500,000 cars and 400,000 freight vehicles each year on our 26 daily crossings. Each of them has been abandoned.

“The proposed improvements, to cover the next 20 years, are only a small fraction of what is needed to make them safer, greener and better.

“There is an injured person every three days on the A75 and A77. Nearly two tons more CO2 are emitted each day on each of these roads than on comparable and improved roads. And these are two of the five slowest A-roads in Scotland.

“Given the Scottish Government’s focus on environmental well-being, it is difficult to understand the failure to commit to meaningful improvements to these high-emission roads, which are the only alternative to transport air travel for those traveling between Northern Ireland and Scotland is a missed opportunity to reduce carbon emissions.

The coalition welcomed the Union Connectivity Review commissioned by the UK government and called on the two administrations to work together.

They said: “We have had extremely encouraging discussions with the UK Government on their proposals for the A75, under the UCR.

“We will continue these discussions and hope that we can play a role in bringing the UK and Scottish governments closer together for the benefit of people in South West Scotland and far beyond.”

Launched in October last year, the Union’s Connectivity Review focused on the quality and availability of transport infrastructure across the UK.

The Scottish Government has previously argued that the transport was vested in Holyrood and called the review a “power grab”.

A spokesman for Transport Scotland said: “We will put forward proposals for future investment in Scotland’s road network through the forthcoming recommendations from the second Strategic Transport Project Review (STPR2).

“We will also continue to advance our national highway improvement program to improve resilience, safety and support sustainable inclusive infrastructure to meet the needs of all residents, businesses and visitors.

“Stranraer and the Ports of Cairnryan are an important gateway to Scotland for ferry passengers and freight and we have engaged with this stakeholder group throughout the STPR2 process. The Minister for Transport is keen to meet with Stena and P&O to further discuss their concerns.

“Improving transport facilities here would support the regeneration of South West Scotland for the benefit of the local economy and communities. STPR2 recommends that safety, resilience and reliability improvements be made on the A75 and A77 strategic road corridors, thereby supporting place-making opportunities. This would include, but not be limited to, improving overtaking opportunities, widening or realigning carriageways, and improving junctions.

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