Meeting papers - 16 May 2024 - Ardrossan Harbour Taskforce


  • Fiona Hyslop – Cabinet Secretary for Transport – Co Chair (CabSecforTransport)
  • Cllr Marie Burns - Co Chair – Leader, North Ayrshire Council (NAC/MB)
  • Craig Hatton - Chief Executive – North Ayrshire Council (CH)
  • Bruce McClure – Senior Manager, Growth & Investment, North Ayrshire Council
  • Colin Bradford – Regeneration Manager, North Ayrshire Council
  • Russell McCutcheon – Executive Director (Place), North Ayrshire Council
  • Louise Kirk – Head of Service Economic Development Growth & Regeneration, North Ayshire Council
  • Kenneth Gibson MSP (KG)
  • Bill Calderwood - Isle of Arran Ferry Committee - Secretary (IOAFC/BC)
  • Iain Thomson - Isle of Arran Ferry Committee – Chairman (IT)
  • Struan Armitage – Isle of Arran Ferry Committee (SA)
  • Lewis McIntyre - Peel Ports Group –Managing Director, Port Services (PPG/LMcI)
  • Garry MacCann – Peel Ports Group
  • Duncan Mackison – Interim CEO of CalMac
  • Pauline Blackshaw - Director of Strategy & Change, (CalMac) (PB)
  • Danielle Neutgens – CalMac Project Manager
  • Graeme McGinty - CMAL – Project Manager (GMcG)
  • Kevin Hobbs CMAL

Transport Scotland officials

  • Roddy MacDonald – Director of Ferries
  • Chris Wilcock – Head of Ferries Branch
  • David Torrance – Head of Contracts and Projects
  • Caroline Connelly – Head of Ferries Infrastructure & Secretariat to Task Force
  • Dominick Cafferkey – Ardrossan Project Officer/Secretariat support.
  • Jacob Logan – Graduate Trainee Engineer


  • James McSporran – Managing Director Clydeport

Welcome and Introductions

  • CabSecforTransport welcomed everyone to the meeting, and confirmed that this meeting was scheduled to discuss the Ardrossan business case and cost exercise review, and for project partners to share their views on this work and any other pertinent issues.
  • CabSecforTransport highlighted that for a decision to be reached, it is of vital importance that the business case is robust, given that difficult decisions will potentially need to be made in light of the current capital spend challenges facing Scottish Ministers. An update to Parliament on the project is expected before Summer Recess.
  • Apologies were conveyed as noted above.

Business Case and Cost Exercise

  • CabSecforTransport invited Transport Scotland to present an update on the business case, which outlined the significant work undertaken to date, and the considerable input from all project partners to its development. It was noted that the business case review is nearing completion and will be presented to the Transport Scotland Investment Decision Making Board for consideration in early June, and to Ministers thereafter.

Task Force Members Discussions

Kenneth Gibson MSP – it is imperative to the communities of Arran and Ardrossan that the ferry service remains in Ardrossan. The Ardrossan to Brodick route in 2023 had more than 6 times the passengers, an increase in cars carried (3.36%) and commercial vehicles/freight (39% ) than the Uig Triangle in which over £108 million was invested in the harbours of Lochmaddy in North Uist, Tarbert in Harrist and Uig in Skye as of March 2022. Therefore this is fundamental in that investment is required taking cognisance of other infrastructure projects which are currently being delivered across the ferry network; noting that some has seen an increase in costs during construction stage. In addition Mr Gibson highlighted that Ardrossan is a socially deprived area and that services being delivered to those communities; that these would be impacted if there was any movement away from a commitment to delivering the project for example impacts on particular job sectors, such as Health & Social Care as this would be causing a crisis of care specifically on Arran. Mr Gibson stated that the business case also needed to consider day-trippers and the importance they have to the Arran economy than the three recently redeveloped harbours of Lochmaddy, Tarbert and Uig. Therefore as stated, any change to the previous commitment given by Scottish Ministers for the ferry service remaining at Ardrossan would not be acceptable.

North Ayrshire Council – Any permanent re-location of the ferry from Ardrossan would be unacceptable. It is understood that the business case work is not yet complete. However, the commitment to remain at Ardrossan is paramount as the impact of moving away would be detrimental to the local communities and users of the service and contrary to the strategic policies and plans of Scottish Government and its agencies which place communities at their heart. Further consideration needs to be given to the additional costs to the Council and the ability to retain/recruit staff to provide vital services to Arran within any comparator harbour to Ardrossan. There is a risk that any relocation would lead to further de-population of both Ardrossan and Arran. NAC are continuing discussions with Transport Scotland on their financial contributions to the project, and hope to agree the financial model shortly. NAC stated that it cannot be under estimated the value of the ferry service from Ardrossan to Arran, which also underpins the wider Coastal Quarter development and the Ayrshire Growth Deal Investment.

Isle of Arran Ferry Committee- agreed with the comments made by Mr Gibson and North Ayrshire Council, in relation to the ferry service being a lifeline for Arran residents. Furthermore, any diminution of Health & Social care services would see residents having to travel further for medical care, and the frequency and capacity of the ferry services would need to support that. Separately, the IOAFC acknowledged the temporary service currently operating from Troon, and that the service is expected to relocate temporarily to Troon when the MV Glen Sannox is deployed to the route.. However, frequency and capacity of services is essential for the economy and survival of the island and the IOAFC will continue to engage with Transport Scotland and CalMac on these important matters. IoAFC also asked how the communities views would be represented at the IDMB. It was also viewed that the best way to get more accurate costs was to progress to tender. This should be progressed with decision before recess and intent to appoint contractor by year end.

Peel Ports Group – it has been good to see the business case develop, and PPG will continue to contribute towards its development alongside with the other project partners. The economic case for remaining at Ardrossan is evident. Project cost rises are reflective of recent increases in inflation and materials costs for port projects, therefore, a decision on this project is necessary so we can move forward.

CalMac – stated that frequency of crossings remains the key consideration for CalMac and they will continue to support the project partners with bringing the business case work to completion allowing for a decision to be made.

CMAL – we also will continue to support the project partners with bringing the business case work to completion, ensuring that the elements we are responsible for delivering; such as the Passenger Access System and Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) facilities are delivered and will be supported by the upgraded infrastructure should the project proceed to Procurement Stage and contract award. Some concerns on the LNG tank location remain with CMAL committed to continue to work with Transport Scotland and the other project partners to resolve these.

  • CabSecforTransport – thanked everyone for their feedback on the business case and acknowledged Ardrossan’s socio economic status and that this was of significant importance and therefore being given due consideration as part of the business case development.
  • CabSecforTransport requested that; Transport Scotland work with the Isle of Arran Ferry Committee to strengthen key areas of the business case, particularly that communities views and the importance of communities needs to be appropriately reflected.
  • CabSecforTransport highlighted that building confidence in Ferries Services and supporting island communities as well as Health and Connectivity to Islands, was an important issue and that she would be continuing to engage with the relevant Ministers to safeguard and strengthen these matters.


  • CabSecforTransport noted that Ferries and associated projects continue to gain a lot of media attention, and that the continued collaboration of project partners was of paramount importance to seeing this project through to a decision.
  • CabSecforTransport confirmed that a press statement would be made confirming the meeting of the Task Force today.

Next Steps

  • CabSecforTransport confirmed that the Minutes of the Task Force will be drafted and published as soon as practicable.
  • The Business Case will be completed in the coming weeks and then presented to the TS investment Decision Making Board in accordance with project management governance practices, and thereafter submitted to Ministers, where a project update is expected prior to the Summer Recess.
  • CabSecforTransport confirmed that the next Task Force meeting will be arranged within the next three months and/or earlier if required.


  • The project partners will continue to provide any further comments and input to the business case to ensure completion; working with Transport Scotland at pace.

Any other Business

  • No issues raised 

Date of next meeting

  • Date of next meeting to be confirmed in due course.

Published Date 19 Jun 2024 Type Mode of transport Topic