30/01/2002

Ballycastle-Campbeltown ferry route re-opened to tender

The Ballycastle-Campbeltown ferry service, which closed down in July 2000, will be opened again to tenders from private companies.

In a joint initiative by the Scottish Office, Scottish Executive and the Northern Ireland Executive, the service will now be out to tenders for a contract to run the service for up to five years. Government bodies will plough a maximum of £1 million a year into the scheme, and it is hoped that the ferry will be able to operate for at least 11 months a year.

Enterprise, trade and investment minister Sir Reg Empey said: “This is a welcome development, particularly for the Moyle area, and if the service is successfully restored, it has the potential to offer a real boost in terms of tourism and employment."

Regional development minister Peter Robinson said: “It has the potential to further strengthen the linkages which exist between Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as directly benefiting the local communities in Moyle and Kintyre."

The route is expected to create hundreds of jobs and millions of pounds in tourism revenues.

The ferry service was originally withdrawn after the Argyll and Antrim Steam Packet Company, owned by Sea Containers, pulled out from the route claiming it was not economically viable. The company claimed annual losses of £500,000.

The decision will be welcomed in Kintyre by Vestas – a Danish company involved in the renewable energy industry.

It was feared that the company might abandon plans to expand its operation in Kintrye if the ferry service was not reinstated. (GMcG)

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