Committee agrees to Levelling Up Funding bid for new electric ferry

At today’s meeting of the Highland Council (Thursday 11 May 2023) members have agreed to put forward a bid for up to £50m of UK government funding towards the cost of providing a new electric ferry to operate across the Corran Narrows in Lochaber.

The MV Corran and her replacement the MV Maid of Glencoul are still out of service waiting for parts to be fitted and repairs completed. The repairs to MVCorran are expected to be completed by the start of June. Having both vessels out of action has highlighted the importance to purchase new reliable vessels to provide a resilient service.

A range of alternative options have been explored, including the purchase of second-hand ferries and the rebuilding of a modern version of the existing MV Corran. In respect of the first of these, after searching on the worldwide market, it has not been possible to source any alternative ferries that would meet the operational needs of this particular route. The very specific tidal challenges of the Corran Narrows coupled with the unique shoreside infrastructure mean that compatibility is extremely difficult to achieve.

Members were updated on progress on delivering the Corran Ferry replacement project. To deliver 2 new Ro-Ro electric ferries capable of transporting 32 cars, creating larger marshalling areas, a new berthing structure and slipways, EV charging points, expanded car parking, new toilet facilities, a renovated ferry office and storage building is expected to need capital investment of £70.5m.

The approved Corran Ferry Outline Business Case Final Report for investment in a new electric ferry and shoreside infrastructure improvements has been agreed by the Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee and this work is set to form the basis of a Levelling Up Fund transport bid for 2023.

The bid will focus on the delivery of one new electric ferry and associated infrastructure totalling £52M. The use of the existing ferries would provide service resilience in the meantime, until such time that the Council can undertake to deliver a second electric ferry.

Chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Ken Gowans said: “The loss of service due to the ageing vessels has brought into focus the need to look to the future and have a sustainable solution for the Corran Ferry crossing. I’m pleased that members have agreed we can press ahead with preparing an application to the Levelling Up Fund and in the meantime, we will continue to work closely with the local communities to provide support and the current contingency measures will remain in place until the ferry is back in operation.”

A further report will be brought to the council providing further details of the process for Round 3 of the Levelling Up Fund, with an appraisal of the other constituency bids for agreement.


11 May 2023