Shetland MSP Tavish Scott will meet the transport minister tomorrow to discuss the impact the Scottish Government order for NorthLink to save fuel by lengthening its journey times without prior consultation will have on the isles.
Mr Scott will tell Stewart Stevenson of widespread concerns and anger over last week’s move to force the ferry operator to use two engines instead of four, which threatens to increase journey times to and from Aberdeen via Kirkwall by an hour.
Details of a new timetable designed to accommodate the changes have yet to be released, although the reality is that the Hjaltland and the Hrossey could have to leave Lerwick as early as 4pm on the nights they visit Orkney.
Winter journeys are also known to be under threat as part of the move, with NorthLink being told to look into reducing sailings during the quieter months of the year.
Mr Scott said: “I have received many representations opposing the proposed changes to the timetable, both from individual islanders and from businesses.
“It is clear that the proposed earlier sailing times for the services that run through Orkney will cause significant problems if they are imposed. Equally, the threat to leave us with a single passenger vessel service in winter is the cause of serious concern.
“At the meeting I will make clear to the minister the strength of opposition to the government’s proposals. I will also inform him of the anger in Shetland at the government’s attempt to impose these changes without consultation. I will urge him to think again and to step back from imposing these damaging changes.”