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Scots hauliers hopeful Western Isles ferry fee hike is scrapped

Hauliers relying on ferries servicing the Western Isles of Scotland say they are hopeful that a huge increase in fares next year will be abandoned following a meeting with the Scottish transport minister.

The businesses, which are campaigning under the name the Outer Hebrides Commerce Group (OHCG), say the effect of a 50% increase earlier this year is already destroying the islands’ economy and a similar rise in April 2013 will be “disastrous” for freight operators.

MSP Keith Brown met with the OHCG this week and, according to the group, he has agreed to produce a study that will “accurately reflect the benefit of reduced ferry fares”.

OHCG chairman Calum Campbell says: “We are pleased that Mr Brown signed up to a proper examination of the benefits of reduced ferry fares. The six-month study will determine exactly how island businesses and families benefited from cheaper ferry travel.”

Local haulier David Wood at Woody’s Express adds: “We’d hope that in January next year the minister will be able to conclude that he must halt the 50% increase due to being implemented next April. We also welcome his commitment to simplifying the complicated and discriminatory ferry fares structure that currently exists for commercial traffic. We were very pleased to hear that he wants all hauliers to benefit from a new and easily understood pricing regime.”

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