A HOLYROOD trip to a Scottish island to investigate Scotland's ferry fiasco was cut short after a service was cancelled.

Members of the Scottish Parliament net zero, energy and transport committee headed to Arran to talk to residents about the effects of unreliable ferries.

But bad weather cancelled the CalMac ferry service they were due on on Monday meaning that they were forced to head to the mainland earlier than intended.

Two Scottish Conservative MSPs, shadow net zero, energy and transport secretary Liam Kerr and committee convener Ed Mountain, took the trip and say the highlighted the cancellation showed the issues islanders suffer everyday.

Mr Kerr said: “Our cancelled ferry was frustrating but it pales into insignificance when compared with what island communities have to endure.

“The SNP’s failure to deliver a ferry service that is fit for purpose has had a devastating impact on the local economy and islanders’ ability to travel to the mainland and back.

“They are being let down at every turn by SNP ministers who have blown more than £250 million worth of taxpayers’ money on ferries that do not yet float.

“The cancellation suffered by the committee was only the latest example of passengers being failed by the SNP’s utterly unreliable ferry network.”

Mr Mountain said: "When we visited Arran we found one of our ferry trips was cancelled and we had to leave before we had completed our business."

HeraldScotland: Ferry services between Ardrossan and Brodick may be disrupted

Robbie Drummond, chief executive of CalMac, said: “CalMac operates in the beautiful but challenging seas off the west coast of Scotland, and in the winter, services will always be disrupted by bad weather.

"This was the case on Monday, when extremely poor weather led to disruption on several routes across the network, including the cancellation of the 1640 and the 1920 from Brodick.

“Adverse weather is the main reason why we disrupt sailings and while this is always a last resort, the safety of customers and crew is a priority.”

MSPs have been told by the Arran Ferry Action Group that the inquiry was vital to try to understand the issues and how they can be solved at what it called "a critical juncture".

Sam Bourne, chairman of the group said: "Let us think of some of the day-to-day impact that an island such as Arran suffers. It cannot be overestimated or overstated how dependent Arran is on a reliable ferry service.

"Examples cover a range of circumstances, including residents attempting to get to medical appointments at mainland hospitals. That is a fairly common tale and it is particularly difficult during the winter when disruption is inevitably higher through weather and technical issues due to overhaul. That has a huge knock-on effect for us.

"Our nearest major hospital is Crosshouse near Kilmarnock. To make it to an appointment you need to get one of the earlier ferries of the day and to get home again you need to ensure that you get on the afternoon or evening ferry.

"If any of those is disrupted, you will either not make it to your appointment, with all the knock-on effect that that will potentially have, or you will need to stay overnight. It is not unusual to hear stories of residents having to go a couple of days early to make sure that they can make their appointment—for which, in the current climate, they may have been waiting six months or more—including, occasionally, very important appointments.

"That is just one small example. The impact stretches through to island producers not being able to get their products to market reliably and farmers not being able to get their animals to market.

"Going the other way, for goods and services coming on to the island, suppliers are less keen to make deliveries on the island because of the risk of their drivers and vehicles getting trapped for a day or more.

"There are so many effects throughout the whole community and economy, and we have not even got on to talking about the effect on the tourism and hospitality industry, with people being unable to reliably plan to come and go on their holidays. In the modern economy, it is an essential economic fact that the islands are tourism reliant, especially the likes of Arran.

"It really cannot be overstated how many and varied the impacts are. I am sure that the other panellists will echo very similar experiences."