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Ferry Relocation Inquiry

Moving ferries to Cairnryan port would safeguard hundreds of local jobs, a port director has claimed.

Speaking at a public inquiry Alan Gordon, director of the new Port of Cairnryan Ltd, said rocketing fuel costs have made the Stranraer to Belfast ferry route uneconomical. And he claimed relocation was essential if the ferry route was to remain viable.

The inquiry into doubling the size of Cairnryan port began last Thursday at the village's community centre, and is expected to finish before Christmas. Said Mr Gordon:

"The increase of over 200 per cent in fuel costs over the last five years has led to a rise in Stena’s operating costs.

"Fuel costs currently inherent in running the HSS vessel from Stranraer makes the route increasingly uneconomical and is threatening its commercial viability.

"The proposed move to Cairnryan will allow the HSS to operate on two small turbines rather than the four turbines currently used for approximately the same cross time.

"This could result in a fuel savings of up to 30 percent."

P&O and Stena Line have joined to form a new company - the Port of Cairnryan - that plans to plough £60m into expanding the port to accommodate Stena's HSS and its conventional ferry, as well as vessels currently using the terminal.

Under proposals the port will double in size, and based on last year’s combined figures for P&O and Stena Line, could handle 1.8 million passengers, 410,000 cars, and 377,000 lorries each year.

Once the inquiry is completed, Ministers will decide in the New Year whether to green light the biggest port expansion in Scotland since 1945. Employing 800 people locally — 12 per cent of all jobs in Wigtownshire — the two ferry companies together are one of the biggest private sector employers in South-West Scotland.

It is also estimated that a further 166 local jobs support the ferry companies and 26 depend on tourists "passing through".

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