We will continue to deliver a lifeline ferry service to connect island and remote communities off the west coast of Scotland with the mainland when the current Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service (CHFS) contract (CHFS2) expires on 30 September 2024.
In a statement to Parliament on 16 November 2023, the Minister for Transport set out Scottish Ministers’ preferred procurement route for the next CHFS contract (CHFS3), which is to explore a direct award through a “Teckal arrangement” in accordance with the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015.
A due diligence process will establish the feasibility of direct award from a financial, operational, and legal perspective.
Subject to a satisfactory outcome, the Scottish Government will commence the necessary steps to facilitate a direct award with a final decision on this route expected in summer 2024. Should the due diligence exercise result in a decision not to proceed with direct award, then the procurement route would revert to a competitive tendering process.
The current policy position regarding unbundling of the CHFS network was clearly expressed by the Minister for Transport in her statement to parliament on 16 November 2023, and there are no plans to split up the network.
In relation to ferry priorities and governance structures under consideration through Project Neptune, the Minister for Transport has been clear that no immediate decision will be taken on the merger of bodies or governance at this time. We will work with the relevant organisations, trades unions, and other stakeholders to identify the optimum final governance arrangements.
Our work on development of the CHFS3 is underway, supported by technical and legal specialists. We are engaging with key stakeholders, including communities and trade unions, to inform the development of these key services. Consultation details and opportunities will be added to this webpage in the near future, along with any engagement opportunities.
The new contract will take into account the wider ferries policy work being developed under the Islands Connectivity Plan, which itself is subject to consultation in the coming months.