EXTRA costs on delivering one of Scotland's long-delayed ferry fiasco vessels are not value for money - but ministers are to plough ahead with ploughing millions more into the project.

Wellbeing economy, fair work and energy secretary Neil Gray admitted that the value for money case for delivery of the vessel only known as Hull 802 "had not been made" and that it would be cheaper to procure a new ferry saying increasing costs were "extremely disappointing". 

But he said ministers would nevertheless plough ahead with supporting the delivery of the two ferries at Ferguson Marine saying it is the "platform upon which future success can be built".

He said that non-delivery of the ferries at nationalised Ferguson's would put the very future of the yard and the jobs it supports "in jeopardy".

And he said procuring a new vessel would mean it would not be delivered till May, 2027 at the earliest and said that the value for money case for the second delayed vessel Glen Sannox had been met.

The extra £72m cash for Ferguson Marine for this financial year which began on April 1, has has been under due diligence since September, last year over concerns about the soaring costs of the ferries that are over five years late.

Mr Gray said: "On the basis of the cost projections in our due diligence, i've provided written authority to the accountable officer to secure the continued build..."

The decision comes after it emerged last week that ministers have a plan to put Ferguson Marine back into private hands.

Ministers sanctioned a cash injection of £61.1m in the last financial year alone as Ferguson Marine tries to deliver two long-delayed ferries. The budget for Ferguson Marine was just £35.9m meaning there is an overspend of £25.2m.

The Herald: Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray during a visit to sustainable coffee roaster Dear Green, in

Neil Gray.

In 2021/22 ministers approved £115.1m in spending on Ferguson Marine which is trying to deliver two long-delayed ferries - more than twice the planned budget.

In March, Ferguson Marine board admitted ‘significant doubt’ over its ability to continue as a going concern - although the board later said that they were optimistic about the future.

Then deputy first minister John Swinney confirmed in mid-March that he felt it was “appropriate and necessary” to allocate a further £6m for work on the vessels.

Calls were made for an independent public inquiry into the ferry fiasco as it emerged that nearly half a billion pounds has been ploughed into the shipyard firm.

Analysis of the money trail based on the Scottish Government's own accounting and audits revealed that the cost to the taxpayer of supporting Ferguson Marine both before and after it forced its nationalisation has soared to more than £450m.

Mr Gray told MSPs at the Scottish Parliament that in making a decision around the way forward, "I am guided by a wider set of considerations relating to the original policy objectives and the impact that any decision might have on people, communities and national resilience".

He added: "It is also important that I consider the impact on Ferguson Marine as well.

"These are not matters that can be taken into account in a pure value for money exercise, but clearly they are matters of the utmost importance."

“If written authority to complete vessel 802 at Ferguson’s was not provided, we could be looking at a delay in deploying a new vessel to May 2027 at the earliest – four years from now and two-and-a-half years after 802 is due to be delivered. I do not consider that it is acceptable to ask our island communities to wait this further period. Also, the due diligence assessment cannot take into account the impact of withholding investment on the Inverclyde and wider Scottish economies.

“While the impact on our island communities and on our economy are not covered by the value for money assessment, they have guided the decisions I have taken, which recognize the broader social and economic benefits of completing both ferries and ensuring the yard continues to have a strong platform upon which to progress and prosper.”

The vessels' delivery has been put back over five years in the wake of the soaring costs.

In March it was confirmed that due to "persistent design gaps and build errors" progress had been slower than planned for the first of the vessels due to come online, Glen Sannox which will now not be delivered in time for the summer season.

It is scheduled for autumn 2023 rather than the end of May 2023 previously estimated, with what Mr Swinney described as a "contract backstop" of no later than the end of December 2023.

The Herald: A BRIGHT future for Inverclyde's Ferguson Marine is hoped for as new chief executive John Tydeman steers the yard through the storm that is the construction of the hybrid ferry Glen Sannox. Hopefully the troubled ferry will at last depart Port

David Tydeman, chief executive of Ferguson Marine

The second vessel, only known as Hull 802 is now not expected online till the autumn of 2024 having already been delayed to the end of March 2024. The contract backstop was stated as being at the end of December 2024.

Scottish Conservative shadow transport spokesman Graham Simpson said the statement was "embarrassing" and added: "The  building of  ferries 801 and 802 has been a shambles from start to finish. In fact, shambles is not a strong enough word. It's been a scandal."

He added: "It's a shameful, scarcely-believable indictment of SNP mismanagement that completing 802 at Ferguson does not represent value for money.

“The very least islanders – and Scottish taxpayers – deserve is an admission from the cabinet secretary of what the final bill for 801 will be, and, in the case of 802, how much cheaper it would be to buy a new ferry elsewhere, compared to finishing the one languishing in Port Glasgow.

“Not only did he fail to answer these questions, he had the audacity to take umbrage at the SNP being taken to task for their appalling incompetence and failure.”

The annual Ferguson Marine accounts for 2021/22 which were laid before the Scottish Parliament in March states that the current budget allocation for 2021/22 did not cover their full costs anticipated for January and say that the languishing ferries were subject to additional cost and overrun.

The Herald previously revealed concerns for the future of the firm because ministers had continued to stall on signing off on the extra funding.

Public finance watchdogs Audit Scotland said on Tuesday that there are "risks and uncertainties" over the financial future of Ferguson Marine going forward while the costs of delivery of long-delayed ferries has soared.

Ferguson Marine responded to the Audit Scotland concerns saying they believed there was a "strong future" for the business despite doubts expressed.

The vessels at the centre of the ferry fiasco were due online in the first half of 2018 with one initially to serve Arran and the other to serve the Skye triangle routes to North Uist and Harris, but they are well over five years late. It is suggested the costs of delivery has quadrupled compared to the original £97m cost.

Ferguson Marine has been at the centre of a bonuses scandal - with £134,218 going to executives - despite the delays in delivering the ferries.

Audit Scotland raised concerns over the bonus payments saying it is "not clear" how their performance was assessed, nor were appropriate frameworks and governance in place.