The first meeting of the Ardrossan Harbour Taskforce has been convened by Minister for Transport and Islands, Derek Mackay MSP to look at future proofing the facility.
The group, made up of all the harbour’s key stakeholders, was established to examine measures to improve harbour operations.
It will also consider any infrastructure work required for the entry into service of the new 100-metre ferry earmarked for the Ardrossan-Brodick route currently under construction at Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited.
Mr Mackay said:
“We are committed to supporting our lifeline ferry services and providing the best possible service for the communities that rely on them.
"I want to ensure Ardrossan Harbour operates as effectively as possible and is ready for the arrival of the new 100-metre ferry.
“It’s no secret the harbour is susceptible to bad weather, so we will consider ways to improve its resilience difficult conditions.
“By gathering key stakeholders together, we aim to identify actions essential to make sure the harbour realises its full potential.
Added Kenneth Gibson:
"As Arran's MSP I have always prioritised improving the island's ferry services; from lobbying for RET and a new ferry, to the new Brodick Harbour, enhanced summer service, ensuring a two ferry service all year round from 2018 and securing the new hybrid, Catriona, for the Lochranza to Claonaig service from this summer.
"Despite the financial challenges brought by recession, the SNP Government has always responded positively and is doing so again by forming this Taskforce.
"Ardrossan Harbour has always been of concern. As it is not in the public sector it has been more difficult to address. Now all the stakeholders are on board with a timetable to meet of the new ferry being in place for 2018 it is important we have the infrastructure to support it and to ensure passengers have a reliable and secure crossing."
Douglas Coleman, Programme Director, Peel Ports Group, which owns the harbour, privatised by the Tories in 1993, said:
“We acknowledge the importance of the lifeline ferry link between Ardrossan and Brodick and are pleased to form part of the Scottish Government Taskforce to explore future opportunities.”
Councillor Willie Gibson, leader of North Ayrshire Council, added:
“These are really exciting times for Arran, Ardrossan and, of course, North Ayrshire.
“The introduction of Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) has led to a steady rise in the number of people using the service with over one million passengers using the ferry last year.
“We must build on that and make sure this is sustainable for years to come.
“The partners within the Taskforce all recognise this so I’m delighted we’re all working collectively to capitalise on the potential we have here in North Ayrshire.”
Tom Docherty, Chief Executive of Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) said:
"We look forward to working with other Taskforce stakeholders to ensure we have a safe harbour, fit for purpose to accommodate a wider variety of vessels in our fleet, including the new dual fuel ferry."
CalMac’s director of operations, Drew Collier said:
"We look forward to working with our partners to ensure we continue to provision of a modern, reliable ferry service that closely meets the needs of the communities we serve."
The meeting took place at North Ayrshire Council headquarters.
Representatives from Transport Scotland, Peel Ports, CMAL, CalMac and North Ayrshire Council were also present.
Minutes of the meeting, and subsequent meetings, will be published in due course.