Northern Isles ferry contract to be put out to tender

Friday May 25th, 2018

A new contract to operate lifeline ferry services to the Northern Isles will be put out to tender “as soon as possible” after the Scottish Government decided against awarding it to a public-sector operator (May 25th).Government Opportunities

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said putting the services out to tender had been the “strong preference” of businesses and local communities on Orkney and Shetland.

He also admitted European state aid rules meant it would not be possible to make a direct award before the current contracts for the Orkney and Shetland routes run out. The current contract, held by Serco NorthLink, was extended to October 2019 to allow further discussions on the matter.

Yousaf said: “We have always said we would take the views of the local community into account when it came to the procurement of the next Northern Isles ferry services contract. Through the consultation process, it’s become clear the preference of local communities is for this contract to be put out to tender rather than a direct award to an in-house operator.

“The latest correspondence from the European Commission means satisfying European law for a direct award will take us beyond the currently extended Northern Isles contract. As a result, we will start the tender process next month. Delaying this any further would put the continued delivery of ferry services at risk, something I am not prepared to do.”

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