Claim that CalMac ferries damaging Ardrossan harbour rubbished by other port firm on main Arran route

Peel Ports accused by Scottish Government-owned Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited of lack of investment in harbour on main Arran route

Claims by the owner of a harbour on CalMac’s busiest route that its poor condition is due to damage by the operator’s ferries have been rubbished by another ports firm which said the fleet had not harmed any of its own 26 harbours.

Peel Ports is accused by Scottish Government-owned Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (Cmal) of starving Ardrossan of investment.

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But privately-owned Peel Ports refuted the “false allegations” and said Ardrossan was being used as a “political football”.

The Ardrossan-Brodick route carried 720,000 passengers last year but the Irish berth at Ardrossan closed permanently in February because of its poor state, and the other, Arran berth cannot be used in strong easterly winds.

That has forced all sailings on the main Arran route to switch to Troon at times, increasing crossing times. CalMac has described it as “an absolute failure of critical infrastructure”.

Peel Ports said last month: “There have not been any cancellations at the Arran berth in recent history because of maintenance issues, unless it has been scheduled work to address damage caused by CalMac.”

Ardrossan harbour is due to be upgraded to accommodate the larger Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa ferries, but the project is being revised.

Peel Ports claimed the delay was due to “endless tinkering” by the Scottish Government, but Transport Scotland said certainty over costs was essential.

Cmal chief executive Kevin Hobbs told The Scotsman: “Undeniably, there has been a severe lack of investment at Ardrossan for many years. “They are a statutory harbour authority. They have got an obligation to make sure the facilities they own are fit for purpose, and I contend that they are not.

“A port will fall to bits unless it’s got the right level of repair and maintenance, and that’s where it’s falling over.

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“They’ve closed one of the two berths there completely and that was not to do with damage, it was to do with dilapidation.

“I am very clear that they have definitely not spent enough money on that port and you can see the consequences.

“We don’t get that sort of damage, so it’s not CalMac. We have 26 ports that are used daily and we don’t have those problems.

“We have the same ships coming in and out of [Cmal-owned] Brodick and they are not damaging our port.”

However, Lewis McIntyre, Peel Ports’ managing director of port services, said: “We strongly refute the false allegations made about a lack of investment at Ardrossan. “As a responsible port operator, it is in our interest to maintain and invest in our facilities. Despite the increasingly wild claims by those with ulterior agendas, the facts clearly speak for themselves. “Sadly, Ardrossan is once again being used as a political football when we have long been fully committed to a solution and this is not serving the interests of all those who rely on the ferry route.” Mr McIntyre said the millions of pounds spent on the port included refurbishment of pulleys, ropes, replacement of gearing and repairs to flotation tanks, hinges and “vital mechanics” on the Arran berth over the last two years.

More than £500,000 had been spent on the Irish berth over the last five years.

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