ALBA Demand New ferries for the Clyde & Hebrides are Built in Scotland
ALBA Party have demanded that two new Calmac Ferries as part of a £115M contract are built in Scotland.
Work to procure two new ferries to help support island communities and improve the resilience of the Clyde and Hebrides network is underway, the Scottish Government have announced.
But Alex Salmond’s pro independence ALBA Party have demanded that the vessels are built in Scotland.
The Scottish Government has prioritised additional funding to enable Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) to accelerate plans for replacement vessels in the CalMac fleet.
However, as they will be built to the same specification as the existing ferries under construction in Turkey for Islay, ALBA fear that publicly owned Ferguson’s shipyard in Port Glasgow will again miss out after CMAL snubbed the yard during the Islay contract award at the first hurdle.
Transport Scotland say their specification decision will “speed up the replacement of the major vessel fleet”, something ALBA Party General Secretary Chris McEleny says is a sign that one of the foreign yards that made it to the final stages of the Islay contract will be awarded the work.
McEleny says that as only four shipyards were invited to tender for the work to build new Islay ferries; Damen Shipyards in Romania, Remontowa Shipbuilding in Poland, and Sefine Denizcilik Tersanecilik Turizm, and Cemre Marin Endustri in Turkey, there is a “danger” that CMAL will again snub Scotland’s publicly owned shipyard as part of the new lucrative contract award.
The Scottish Government attracted much criticism last year when it made the decision to award the lucrative Islay contract to Cemre Marin Endustri at the shipyard in Turkey, and attracted much ridicule for stating the construction of the vessels in Turkey would bring community benefits to the Inverclyde area.
Now, ALBA Party’s General Secretary Chris McEleny, who represented Inverclyde - home of nationally owned Ferguson’s Shipyard - for over a decade, has demanded that the Scottish Government commit to building the vessels in Scotland.
McEleny has been campaigning for the Scottish Government to adopt a direct award policy which would mean work to replace Scotland’s aging ferry fleet would be directly awarded to Ferguson’s and other Scottish yards as opposed to being tendered and awarded to oversees yards, something he says “robs” Scottish communities of much needed jobs and investment.
Commenting ALBA Party General Secretary Chris McEleny said:
“It was a slap in the face to Scottish Shipbuilding when CMAL were allowed to award lucrative work to build new Scottish Ferries to a Shipyard in Turkey.
“The Scottish Government own ferries, they operate ferries and run a shipyard that builds ferries. It’s therefore an absurdity that they would then consider giving lucrative contracts to build our ferries to yards overseas.
“Communities like Inverclyde are crying out for good quality jobs. The replacement of Scotland’s ageing ferry fleet could herald in the re-industrialisation of the entire lower Clyde. The Scottish Government must finally step up and opt for a direct award policy to ensure that Scottish Ferries are built in Scotland. They can show their intent now by committing to building these two new ferries at Ferguson’s in Port Glasgow and ruling out that they will be allowed to be built overseas.”
It’s expected the contract will be awarded before the end of the year. The overall project costs are estimated at around £115 million, including allowance for minor port improvements.