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A major socio-economic study is being launched to gather the views of as many residents as across Fort William, Ardgour, Sunart, Ardnamurchan,
Moidart, Morar, Morvern, Mull and beyond as a way of analysing the importance of the Corran ferry service.
Stantec has been commissioned by The Highland Council and the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS) to analyse the economic, social and community benefits provided by the ferry service.
The purpose of this research is to feed into the business case being developed by the council for new vessels and terminal infrastructure.
The study is intended to highlight the importance of the ferry to the communities previously mentioned in part through testing the implications of hypothetical scenario where the service discontinued.
The purpose of this exercise is to understand how the ferry is used and the benefits which it offers. As such, there is less of a focus on the operational details of the
service, such as individual fares, operating hours etc and a much larger focus on the use of the ferry service, including journey purpose and frequency.
More detailed consultation on the operational aspects of the ferry service will be carried out as part of the detailed design stage of the Ferry Service Outline Business Case, and as such does not form part of the scope of this study.
A council spokesperson told us: ‘The Corran Ferry provides a lifeline route across the Corran Narrows of Loch Linnhe from the Ardnamurchan and Morvern peninsulas to the A82 traveling North to Fort William and South, to Oban, Glasgow and the rest of Scotland.
‘In 2019, a high-level feasibility study of a fixed-link across the Corran Narrows was completed and submitted to Transport Scotland for further consideration within the Strategic Transport Projects Review 2 (STPR2) process.
‘This process is ongoing but, even if a fixed link – bridge or tunnel – is prioritised through this process, its realisation ‘on the ground’ remains a longer-term proposition.
‘In the meantime, however, there is an urgent need to invest in the ferry service to protect and develop the ‘lifeline’ link across the Narrows which serves the communities of Fort William, Ardgour, Sunart, Ardnamurchan, Moidart, Morar, Morvern, the Isle of Mull and beyond.
‘This is driven in part by the need to replace the ageing MV Maid of Glencoul, but also by vehicle capacity issues which leads to traffic queuing issues on either side of the Corran Narrows.
‘The ferry, running all year round, seven-days a week, is the busiest when measured against any comparable service in Scotland, and many in Europe, making approximately 30,000 crossings per year and carrying 270,000 cars.
The ferry meets the supply chain needs of the communities; it is heavily used by commercial users and provides residents with daily connectivity to employment, health, education, and everyday activities. It also acts as a gateway for tourists visiting the peninsulas and beyond, and with the current trend for holidaying at home these number are continuing to rise further.
‘There exists, therefore, an urgent requirement for investment in the replacement of the vessels and infrastructure to ensure the sustainability of the service, until such time as a longer-term fixed-link solution can potentially be realised.’