Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Road Haulage Groups Receive Bonus on RoRo Freight Ferry Rates

New Government Aid for Distant Regions
Shipping News Feature

SCOTLAND – Transport Minister Keith Brown has gone further with the subsidisation of Scottish freight ferry services and announced a further £2.5 million in aid for road haulage operators to help the cost of shipping larger trucks on some of Caledonian MacBrayne RoRo ferries longer routes to Coll, Tiree and the Western Isles. The announcement follows last week’s news regarding subsidies via the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) which were granted to all qualifying vehicles up to six metres long. The Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) scheme involves setting ferry fares on the basis of the cost of travelling an equivalent distance by road and a summary of its impact can be viewed HERE.

The move is in line with the avowed intent to replace RET for larger commercial vehicles to the Western Isles, Coll and Tiree, with an enhanced pre-RET discount scheme and roll out some sort of RET scheme to other West Coast and Clyde islands within the term of the current Parliament. The Scottish Government currently subsidises the principal operators of the Clyde and Hebrides ferry services and services to and from Orkney and Shetland. These services are provided under public service contracts with the Scottish Government and are mostly controlled by the David MacBrayne group which in turn is controlled by Scottish Ministers aka the Government.

The overall cost of these subsidies to the Scottish Government for the forthcoming year will be in the region of £5.3 million in total, and it is to conduct a six month study to determine the effect of ferry costs and its affect on local communities and the economy in general. The new measures were decided after a consultation with hauliers who felt the previous system was skewed in favour of some and the intention is to ensure all hauliers, regardless of size and traffic levels, pay an equivalent rate and that no fare will increase more than 50% during the transitional period.