Catamaran – it was off, and now it’s on… maybe.

We are still in the game… but time is running out. Last Wednesday 3rd we received a letter from Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse, telling us that the government would not be pursuing the catamaran, because “…the vessel is unlikely to achieve the required certification by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)”. This was despite having written to him on February 21st, outlining our Crowdfunder campaign and the study were were commissioning that is intended to address in detail the MCA issue.

This was hugely frustrating, baffling and disappointing news – we were being told that the government was not going to wait to have the MCA questions answered, despite the community itself stepping up to fund the work needed. We expressed our disappointment quite plainly, and our MSP Michael Russell was swift and assertive in backing us up. Consequently, just three days later we received another letter from Mr Wheelhouse – this time saying that they would indeed wait for the outcome of the study by Strathclyde University.

There are just a few weeks remaining until Parliament disolves, and the ferry itself is nearing completion and is being advertised more widely to other prospective buyers.

Thanks to everyone who has donated, we have exceeded our fundraising target (including Gift Aid), and did so very swiftly. Strathclyde University have progressed well with their analyses, and have reported interim results already – and so far, they are very positive. We hope to have the full and final report in a matter of days, and we’ll be sending it to Transport Scotland and CMAL just as soon as we get it.

The ability of the catamaran to pass the MCA has been the central sticking point. CMAL and Transport Scotland say they have no confidence that it will pass, whilst the designers say it will. Normally, this issue would be resolved by a mutually engaged buyer and seller together taking the design to the MCA for approval, having first agreed commercial terms (ie price etc). CMAL and TS are insisting however, that MCA approval must be secured before they will enter negotiations. This is highly unusual, and contrary to the international norms of vessel sales. We are hoping that the independent study the community have helped to pay for (the sellers are paying half) will break the impasse, and give government the confidence they need to agree the deal.

THANK YOU to everyone who has donated – and if you would like to top up the fund to give us a reserve fighting fund, please click the link below!

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