Argyll and Bute Council is calling on the Scottish government to recognise the area’s unique geography when it considers decisions relating to transport and infrastructure.
Many of Argyll and Bute’s mainland residents live on isolated peninsulas and rely on ferry transport as much as their neighbours on Argyll’s 25 inhabited islands.
These residents pay a higher price of goods and services because of the higher costs associated with transportation and delivery.
And because of the isolated nature of the area residents rely on ferry transport, making them especially vulnerable to increased charges resulting from higher fuel costs.
The council is calling on the Scottish government to lend its support to develop ferry links between Campbeltown and Ballycastle, Northern Ireland. And the council wants a commitment from the government that it will do all in its power to secure a vehicle and passenger link between Dunoon and Gourock.
Council leader Dick Walsh has written to the First Minister, outlining the council’s concerns. Councillor Walsh said:
“It’s obvious island inhabitants rely heavily on ferries to link them to mainland services but the special challenges faced by people living on rural peninsulas isn’t always recognised. People living in areas such as Rosneath, Dunoon and Kintyre face similar challenges to our island residents. Using ferries is as much a way of daily life for them as it is for people on islands. We think this should be recognised by government when it comes to providing subsidies and grants for infrastructure.
“We do not think the government has succeeded in its efforts to promote a positive outcome for ferry transport in Argyll and Bute and are asking for it to actively promote improved ferry services for Argyll and Bute residents.”
In addition the council is asking for Argyll and Bute’s peninsula residents to be taken into account when the UK and Scottish governments consider proposals to review and reduce fuel duty for island communities.
Councillor Walsh continued:
“People living in peninsula communities face similar challenges to island dwellers. They rely on ferries or face long journeys by road to reach services. Businesses making deliveries to these areas often apply a premium to cover the additional cost o f fuel and this means peninsula dwellers pay more for services than other mainland residents. We don’t think this is fair and so are asking the government to consider their needs as well as those of our islanders.”