KATE Forbes has said locals should be given discounted fares on a trouble-hit ferry route once service resumes.

The MSP and former SNP cabinet secretary hit out at “decades of poor forward planning by Highland Council” after the local authority announced new disruption on the Corran to Ardgour route.

The short crossing usually takes just five minutes and runs seven days a week. However, it has been suspended since October 2022 “due to essential repairs” to the MV Corran.

The replacement MV Maid of Glencoul, meant to serve as a back-up, broke down in mid-August.

As a result, there is no car ferry on a route which usually carries more than 270,000 vehicles each year.

Drivers have been left with a 42-mile detour, but pedestrians have been able to cross.

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Highland Council had been expecting the MV Corran to be given the green-light to return to service on October 23.

However, on Tuesday the authority announced that it would need more time.

Highland Council said in a statement: “The Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA) inspected the MV Corran yesterday afternoon (Monday October 23) and unfortunately could not issue the ‘Passenger Carrying Certificate’ required to resume service.

“This was due to a ‘bilge suction’ issue and this issue has since been rectified, a reinspection by MCA surveyors will take place on Wednesday 25 or Thursday 26 October, which is the earliest date the surveyor can be on site, storm Babet having also affected survey work.”

The National: Drivers face a 42-mile detour if the five-minute ferry crossing (circled) is out of actionDrivers face a 42-mile detour if the five-minute ferry crossing (circled) is out of action (Image: Google)

Councillor Ken Gowans, the chair of the council’s economy and infrastructure committee, said: “It is deeply disappointing that there is a further delay to the return to MV Corran due to the MCA inspection identifying an issue with the ‘bilge suction’ that required repair.

“The repair has been rectified and the council are working with the MCA to arrange a reinspection as soon as possible. “At time of writing and subject MV Corran successfully being issued her ‘Passenger Carrying Certificate’, the MV Corran is now expected to resume service as soon as possible during [the] week commencing Monday 30 October.

“I would like to thank the council staff for their diligence and hard work throughout this challenging period. Public safety remains our primary concern, and the crew will continue to prepare the MV Corran for reinspection.”

Forbes, the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, hit out at the news.

She wrote on social media: “The latest twist in a saga that has lasted far, far too long.

“A fragile community is paying the price for decades of poor forward planning by Highland Council.

“It’s time for specific support for residents and businesses, such as discounted fares, when the service resumes.”

Highland Council’s website describes the Corran ferry as “a lifeline connection linking the communities of Fort William, Ardgour, Sunart, Ardnamurchan, Moidart, Morar, Morvern and the Isle of Mull”.