You are on page 1of 3

Irish Ferry Report

The Scottish Government - January 2009
This economic appraisal, which was undertaken at the request of Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive
Ministers, examines the case for restoring the Campbeltown - Ballycastle ferry service which ended after the 1999 season.

Despite being dated January 2009, the report was not made publicly available online until November 19, 2009 and the
internet link to the document only made public on page 1 of ‘The Campbeltown Courier’ of Friday, April 2, 2010, not
one Scottish Government minister, MSP or even local councillor decrying the delay in making known the document’s
publication, that in itself a matter of some, at best, ‘curiosity’ !

It also a matter of some ‘curiosity’ that The Scottish Government chose to appoint the MVA Consultancy
http://www.mvaconsultancy.com/ to prepare the report as the only other ‘marine’ studies in their portfolio of
appointments http://www.mvaconsultancy.com/case_studies/case_studies.htm appear to be those for a Glasgow City
Council/Argyll and Bute Council-commissioned report for a ‘Clyde Waterbus and Ferry Service’
http://www.mvaconsultancy.com/case_studies/clyde_waterbus.pdf and a ‘Transport Study’ for The Forth and Clyde
Canal http://www.mvaconsultancy.com/case_studies/forth_and_clyde_canal.pdf

The MVA Consultancy also now have another couple of pages about the Campbeltown - Ballycastle study online at
http://www.mvaconsultancy.com/case_studies/campbeltown_ballycastle_ferry_study.pdf which asserts -

Socio-economic Context

“Our analysis confirmed that both areas suffer from deprivation and high levels of unemployment relative to national
averages. We found that there is an established market for travel between Scotland and Northern Ireland but that aviation
had been taking market share away from ferries. We identified that the Campbeltown - Ballycastle ferry would serve a
largely different, although small, market to the existing ferry services between Scotland and Northern Ireland and would
therefore mainly generate new trips.

Operational and Infrastructure Issues

“Having examined the harbours at Campbeltown and Ballycastle we identified that the existing facilities were suitable to
allow the reintroduction of a ferry service with some minor remedial works. Troon and Ardrossan harbours were identified
1
as suitable to accommodate a leg to Ayrshire. Our assessment of vessels found that it would be difficult to source a suitable
second hand vessel to operate the service whilst construction of a new vessel could be expensive and incur significant
waiting times for delivery.

Options for a Ferry Service

“Taking into account factors such as routes, home port, vessel specifications, service frequency, demand and fares we
developed 13 options for a ferry service -

7 for a Campbeltown - Ballycastle service,
4 for a Campbeltown - Ballycastle service with a leg to Ayrshire
2 for a service between Campbeltown and Ayrshire alone

We then sifted these down to 5 options -

4 for a service between Campbeltown and Ballycastle
1 with a leg to Ayrshire

which were taken forward for detailed appraisal.

Appraisal of Options

“Each of the options was assessed against the five STAG criteria of Economy, Environment, Integration, Safety and
Accessibility and Social Inclusion. This included initial, qualitative appraisal and detailed, quantitative appraisal of the
options.

Commercial Viability and Benefits

“All five options were assessed for their commercial viability using a revenue maximising fare and with an old and a new
vessel. In addition, sensitivity testing using a Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) fare was also undertaken. For this assessment
we developed a bespoke demand forecasting model. We found that all options would require a substantial public subsidy
but that providing links to Ayrshire offered additional benefits in terms of enhanced accessibility between Kintyre and the
Central Belt. We therefore recommended that if the service was to be taken forward it should include a leg to Ayrshire. The
majority of economic benefits would accrue to Scotland, especially Kintyre, with no major net impact on Northern Ireland.

The market for the service is shown by the purple areas

2
Marketing the Service

“We concluded that a combination of destination marketing (i.e. the attractions of Campbeltown and Ballycastle) and direct
marketing of the service would be required for maximum success. In particular, the ferry should seek to attract niche
markets based upon the local attractions like sports, outdoor pursuits and the natural environment”.

The main link to The Scottish Government / Northern Ireland report, which, it is asserted, was prepared in accordance
with Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Transport/ferries-ports-
canals/14342/STAG and the report consists of 3 documents :

The 97-page Appraisal Report http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Transport/ferries-ports-canals/14342/Report3

The 165-page Option Generation and Sifting Report http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Transport/ferries-ports-
canals/14342/Report4

The 85-page Consultation Report http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Transport/ferries-ports-canals/14342/Report5

Those with any interest in the creation of ferry links between Kintyre and Ireland might like to read about the history of
earlier operations on the route at http://www.scribd.com/doc/6323536/Kintyres-Western-and-Irish-Ferries-2004 and this
document also includes a full set of Summer and Winter Traffic Projections for the route, these figures and notes first
made freely available to Argyll and The Isles Enterprise in 1995 and ‘almost studiously ignored’ by successive agencies and
fee-paid consultants ! Here too in this document are the Traffic Returns for the short-lived, 1997 - 1999, Campbeltown -
Ballycastle route, it operated by the ex-CalMac car ferry “Claymore”.

Most recently another document about the potential of the route http://www.scribd.com/doc/19921586/Sound-of-Islay-
The-Irish-Ferry-Now-and-Then was also put online, it focusing on the original Campbeltown - Red Bay route and it is
suggested that these documents be read in conjunction with the MVA Consultancy report highlighted here.

As some may agree after reading the 350-page report, there is but little ‘real’ mention of the weather conditions which can
be even more severe inside The Firth of Clyde than in The North Channel and it is little surprising that the ‘office-bound
and fair weather’ consultants and government officials somewhat glibly gloss over the subject. However, in leaping to their
defence and likely ignorance about the problems of the area’s weather and sea conditions, it is probably fair to assume that
even the oldest of those involved in preparing the various reports was either too young, or else otherwise interested, to be
fortunate enough to regularly, that deliberately italicised, on the old “Duchess of Hamilton” or “Queen Mary (II)” to
Campbeltown or Ayr, or sail on the old “Glen Sannox (III)”, between Brodick and Ardossan, in good or bad weather
nor, in more recent time, transit The North Channel, between Campbeltown and Red Bay and round to Rathlin, on the
“Balmoral” or the “Waverley”.

Even on a good day, in an almost flat calm, there is a swell running south of the line between Skipness, The Garroch
Head, Little Cumbrae and The Ayrshire Coast AND, even the most insensitive person is aware of it immediately leaving
the security of piers and berths AND, on the ‘long reaches’ of the runs from Campbeltown to Pladda and the Ayrshire
Coast ports and on the diagonal crossing from the south end of Kintyre, inside or outside of Sanda, to Ballycastle,
weather and tidal streams can easily not only reduce a 14-knot ferry’s service speed down to just 11 or 12-knots but too
demand that the ship’s route length, for the comfort of passengers, even in ‘ordinary’ conditions, be increased by an extra
10% to 15% in mileage. In heavy weather conditions, NONE of the Ayrshire ports can be entered, or indeed left,
without considerable problems, Ardrossan long troublesome and frequently demanding the Arran ferry service to be
diverted to Gourock, the lone berth at the south side of Wemyss Bay Pier unsuited to accommodating ‘big’ ferries and
unusable in certain weather states in any case and e.g. should a scheduled ‘morning run’ from Campbeltown to ‘Ayrshire’
(Ardrossan) be operated in dubious conditions, it would almost certainly lead to the cancellation of the ‘afternoon’ sailing
to Ireland, the ship, even if the weather improved, unable to catch up sufficient time the rest of the day to make any
further sailing(s) possible.

As any ship operator will confirm, a “ONE SHIP SERVICE”, trying to work a two-route service, such as is proposed in
the MVA Consultancy reports here, is a ‘recipe for disaster’ ! The primary need is for an ‘Irish’ service, with a through
link to The Continent, through the south of Ireland and, perhaps, a link to ‘The North of England’, any ‘notional idea’ of
a link between Kintyre and ‘The Scottish Central Belt’, via Ardrossan or Troon, must be strongly resisted at this time.
3