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A catamaran crowdfunding appeal for Mull has beaten its target.
Mull and Iona Ferry Committee has raised more than £,8,000 – topping £7,000 within 24 hours.
The funds are needed to help pay for the costs of commissioning special independent studies.
They are needed to show that the proposed catamaran plan could meet strict standards set by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA).
The committee said Transport Scotland lacks ‘sufficient confidence’ that a catamaran would pass the required safety assessments by the MCA.
However, the catamaran’s designers insist that with ‘minor modifications’ it could and have agreed to pay the other half of the study costs, said the committee.
It is backing the catamaran plan to provide a more frequent and reliable service between Craignure and Oban and has identified one under construction in Indonesia.
In an online statement the committee said: ‘Our objective is to demonstrate to Transport Scotland that it will pass the MCA and how. We hope this will give government the confidence it needs to go ahead and negotiate a purchase.’
It said the Pentland Ferries’ MV Pentalina was designed to similar standards and was granted MCA approval to operate between the Pentland Firth and Orkney.
The committee said that efforts to get Caledonian Maritime Assets (CMAL) to consider the purchase had reached an ‘impasse’ and it had ‘not responded’ to a sale offer in December.
But in a statement, Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd said it had spent significant ‘time and resources’ considering the vessel and had engaged with the committee, the seller, Transport Scotland and CalMac.
CMAL said the vessel ‘is not compliant’ and would require ‘significant modification’ to meet UK standards set by the MCA.
It said it carried out an in-house professional review by naval architects and ship designers and commissioned an independent naval architecture consultancy.
‘The vessel requires significant modification to meet UK standards and the seller has been unable to provide assurances on meeting these.
‘It is the clear responsibility of the seller to ensure that a vessel is compliant and meets all regulations required for a flag state, in this case the UK flag state.
‘We have been very transparent with the committee and it has been made aware of our professional assessments in May 2020 and onwards.
‘CMAL cannot spend millions of taxpayers’ pounds on purchasing a vessel that may not secure a passenger certificate and therefore never be able to operate on Scottish routes.
‘It should be noted CMAL does not and will not discount any solution for current or future vessel types.’