FRAGILE communities campaigning against 25% increases in fares on a vital ferry service have staged a demonstration calling for it to be treated as part of the road network.

Protest group FC Corran (Free Crossing for Corran) waved banners highlighting what they see as discrimination because while bridges such as that over the Forth are for free, those traversing the 480m at Corran Narrows on Loch Linnhe pay £2 per 100 metres.

The demonstrators said that Highland Council's four-minute crossing from Nether Lochaber to Ardgour, a key link that connects Ardnamurchan and Morvern to the rest of the mainland, was "probably the most expensive ferry in the world". Fares are £7.90 for a single crossing with a car or £69.50 for a book of 30 tickets.

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The alternative is to take the A861 largely single track road on the west side of Loch Linnhe round the head of Loch Eil to join the Mallaig road, a detour of 35 miles to Fort William.

The campaigners' demonstration styled the ferry crossing as the A825 Old Ford Road to underline that despite it being a waterway it should be treated as part of the road network.

Tony Boyd, chair of Ardgour Community Council, said camp-aigners would pursue Article 174 of the Lisbon Treaty which had committed the EU to reduce disparities between areas.