Residents are looking into purchasing their own ferry - following "complete despair" over a continuing failure of the lifeline Corran ferry service.

Representatives of community councils are looking into the plan after the Highland Council which runs the service has rejected calls for compensation due to the breakdown of the service which connects Lochaber to the Ardnamurchan peninsula.

The Corran service is the busiest single-vessel ferry route in Scotland, carrying more than 270,000 cars each year, but the return of the main vessel MV Corran had been delayed since October and it remains out of action with further delays revealed over its return.

The older relief vessel, the MV Maid of Glencoul was then out of action for several weeks. It was put out of action again in mid-August and remains sidelined.

Joanne Matheson, secretary of the Acharacle Community Council is seeking information from Highland Council about how the ferry is run as consideration is given for residents to run their own ferry.

READ MORE: Council calls for investigation into Corran ferry fiasco 'scandal'

She has written about the idea to Tracey Urry, Highland Council's head of transport and roads after the officer said there would be no compensation made available as a result of the disruption.

The Herald:

Ms Urry told Ms Matheson: "I appreciate residents will be disappointed but unfortunately, with a significant projected revenue loss for the Corran ferry service in 2023/24 there is no scope for the council to subsidise residents and local businesses and I will not reconsider my position on this."

Ms Matheson said the officer's reference to subsidising residents and local businesses as "extremely insulting".

"We are not asking for subsidisation, we are asking to be compensated for the loss of income and additional costs we have incurred as a direct result of Highland Council failures over decades... The fact that you are apparently willing to sit by while businesses fail as a direct result of your inaction, merely confirms our belief that those of you working in Inverness have no interest in providing the services to those of us in Lochaber, for which you are responsible.

"As a result of your inaction, our community has no alternative but to look into the prospect of purchasing a replacement ferry ourselves."

She has asked the council to provide a full detailed breakdown of all costs associated with running of the Corran Ferry over the past 10 years, including staff costs, servicing, maintenance and repairs to both vessels, other related purchases and investments.

She has also asked for a breakdown of all incomes associated with running of the Corran Ferry over the past 10 years including all fares, grants, subsidies and other contributions from Scottish Government and/or UK Government or others.

There is also a request for Scottish Government guidance on the minimum amount Highland Council should have been spending on providing the Corran ferry service including maintenance, repairs and replacement.

Dr Michael Foxley, the former leader of Highland Council and vice chairman of Ardgour Community Council confirmed that there had been talk of the community having more direct control over services and said the continuing issues amounted to "an emergency". He said more information was needed about feasibility, including the possibility of transferring revenue to support the service.

The Herald:

MV Corran while in operation

"It is just awful that there is more delay and they are doing things now they could have done at any time in the last six months. Businesses are seriously bleeding.

"There is a combination of fury and complete despair now."

It comes as Highland Council - which is led by a joint administration of the SNP Group and the Highland Independent Group - announced further delays to MV Corran's return.

In June the council had expected the vessel to be back in service in the middle of August.

Now it says that the works on MV Corran, which has had a series of technical issues, is now not expected till mid-October.

Without the service, drivers have been faced with diversions of up to 86 miles or making use of a temporary foot passenger-only service between Corran and Ardgour.

The council warned ministers in February during a parliamentary inquiry into the future of ferry services that the risk of breakdown of the two vessels was "significant".

The two existing ferry vessels have been deemed to be in need of "urgent replacement" for some time as MV Corran is 22 years old and the relief vessel is 48 years old.

Even if an order is made now for replacements, the council told ministers the estimated delivery was four to five years away.

People living in Fort William, Ardgour, Sunart, Ardnamurchan, Moidart, Morar, Morvern and the Isle of Mull are among those who regularly use the ferry. It is also used by visitors to the area.

The Corran Narrows Socio-Economic Study concluded that, in the absence of a fixed link, the provision of a frequent, reliable, and high-capacity ferry service at Corran is fundamental to the economic viability and future sustainability of the peninsula.

The council had put through a request to transfer responsibility for the service to the Scottish Government agency Transport Scotland based on principles set out in the Scottish Ferries Plan, in the hope this would pave the way for a replacement.

But the council subsequently said that the solution would have to be funded and delivered by them.

A Highland Council spokesman said: “The council is working hard to resume service across the Corran Narrows to the Ardnarmurchan Peninsula. The council is also progressing a replacement ferries project whilst maintaining the case for attracting external funding for a fixed link in the long term."

The spokesman added: “Engineers are continuing to investigate a steering system issue to enable the Maid of Glencoul to return to service. That work is underway, and at time of writing we do not have a date for her return.

“As soon as we have an indicative date, we will communicate this information to the public. It remains a priority to have both the MV Corran which is due for return mid-October and the Maid of Glencoul available for service as soon as possible.”