A FERRY operator who has been serving two remote communities for more than 40 years is expected to lose the contract.

There are no roads to Inverie, the main community on the Knoydart Peninsula, or to Tarbet, a tiny settlement on the south shore of Loch Nevis. So the only way to avoid miles of walking to either is to take a service from Mallaig, which has been run by Bruce Watt.

But he expects the Highland Council to confirm he has lost the subsidised contract.

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In a community of just 120, locals are reluctant to speak against Sandaig Ltd, which said: "We are 99.5% sure we have got the contract." But some have submitted questions to the council to receive "no response".

They said: "It would be fair to say the majority have serious concerns."

The council said the contract had not yet been awarded. However, Mr Watt said: "We have lost it after 45 years. It is about cost-cutting.

"The company which has won the contract has boats that can carry only 12. We can carry 81 passengers every time and hardly miss a trip."

Janet Sellars of Sandaig Ltd said: "We started running freight but have been running a regular service for three years. We have three boats and have another one lined up which hopefully will be able to carry more than 12."