Ferry operator CalMac has been criticised for failing to provide an adequate service for communities living in the Western Isles after a key service was suspended.
The MV Loch Seaforth requires major repairs due to an engine failure and has, therefore, been taken off the Ullapool to Stornoway route with immediate effect.
CalMac says the vessel is expected to be out of service until at least the end of April, adding that the cause of the engine issue will be thoroughly investigated, and necessary repairs will be carried out as soon as possible.
The MV Isle of Lewis will pick up the day service for passengers and for freight on the Ullapool to Stornoway route from Friday.
The overnight freight service has been suspended until further notice.
Robert Morrison, operations director for CalMac, said: “We appreciate the importance of the passenger and freight service on this route and apologise for the inconvenience this will cause. Please be assured that we are doing our utmost to find solutions to get the service back to normal.
“We are working closely with the vessel owners CMAL and Transport Scotland to find ways to continue the freight and passenger service between Stornoway and Ullapool. Customers wishing to travel today are being diverted on alternative routes.”
Councillor Uisdean Robertson, chair of transportation and infrastructure at Western Isles Council, called on CalMac to compensate businesses for additional costs incurred as a result of the ferry suspension.
He said: “The failure of Calmac to provide an adequate ferry service to our islands is continuing to put our communities at a disadvantage.
“This is unacceptable and not enough has been done to address the problem. The poor service and inadequate ferry provision has seriously affected our islands over the last few months particularly in Barra and South Uist where the service has been unacceptable.
“Today many island businesses have been negatively affected and been asked to travel to Tarbert to make their way to Skye. It seems only fair that Calmac compensate these companies for the additional costs that they no choice but to pay as a result of this service problem.”