Highland business owners say a new ferry restriction on a 'lifeline service' will put them at risk of collapse.

A temporary weight limit is being imposed on the Maid of Glencoul Corran Ferry service in Lochaber, "to ensure the safety of the travelling public."

The MV Corran which is the larger vessel has been out of commission for months as Highland Council awaits parts to allow repairs to be completed. No date has been given as yet for its return to service.

From March 20, all vehicles over 3.5 tonnes in weight, excluding emergency services and service buses, will not be permitted to use the council-run service, which links the communities of Fort William, Ardgour, Sunart, Ardnamurchan, Moidart, Morar, Morvern and the Isle of Mull.

Ken Gowans, chairman of Highland Council's economy and infrastructure committee said: "We realise the demand for the service will be picking up as we move from winter into spring, and it is unfortunate that due to the difficulty in sourcing necessary parts the MV Corran is not available at present."

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Davie Ferguson, manager of the Ardnarmurchan Lighthouse Trust, said the apparent lack of consultation with local businesses was an "absolute disgrace".


He said: "A limit of 3.5 tonnes on the ferry means no deliveries from Bidfood, Brake Bros etc to the lighthouse.

"If we can’t stock the coffee shop we are finished as a business.

"Our supplies mainly come in on a weekly basis from Oban via the ferry.


"These lorries are all over 3.5 tonnes so they would need to go round by Lochailort and Glenuig, which they won't do because it's more than a day's run.

"It's a long detour for them. I don't know what we will do - it's going to be very difficult."

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Andrew Cameron, of Loch Shiel Garage in Acharacle, said the loss of the larger vessel had increased their running costs by around £1000 per week.

He said: "If we are not allowed to continue to use, even the small ferry,  I cannot see how the recovery/ haulage side of our business can carry on. 

"I can see no option other than from March 20 when the 3.5 tonne restriction is put into place that we will not be offering a breakdown recovery service to West Lochaber, Mull and beyond.

"With the larger MV Corran being away for over 4 months it has been costing us in excess of £1000 per week due to having to double run everything to Fort William from Acharacle via Lochailort the long way round, increased driving time and the drivers being unable to return journeys back home on the same day as leaving.

"Never mind taking into account the loss of work that we can not competitively tender for due to the extra miles and height restrict'Aions on the a830 and a861 for lorries, if we do not have an effective ferry service.

"We as a small company in the local area of Ardnamurchan and Morvern and cannot withstand this any longer."

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Dr Michael Foxley, vice chairman of Ardgour Community Council and a former Highland Council leader, said the restrictions had "come as a shock" to local businesses.

He said:  " MV Corran left for a refit over four months ago leaving the Maid to continue the service.  

"Further disruption with an imposed weight limit will have a huge impact on the communities and businesses in Ardnamurchan, Morvern and Mull. 

"We need to learn when the MV Corran will return and why this refit has been so protracted."