Greens minister Lorna Slater has been accused of “hypocrisy” after she chartered a private boat to visit the Isle of Rum.

The Circular Economy and Biodiversity Minister is taking a chartered catamaran to visit the island on Friday rather than a CalMac ferry.

The Scottish Government says the move will “maximise time” on the island for the biodiversity minister, her staff and other officials.

It comes as the ferry network faces ongoing problems with reliability due to an ageing fleet, something which has long angered island communities.

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The visit is to discuss the future of Kinloch Castle, a former Edwardian pleasure palace which is at risk of deteriorating as it is no longer being used as a hostel.

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City financier and former Tory donor Jeremy Hosking had said he was interested in buying the castle, but blamed Ms Slater’s intervention when he withdrew his bid.

Conservative MSP Donald Cameron said: “Lorna Slater’s hypocrisy and lack of self-awareness is breathtaking.

“The Greens are forever lecturing the public on the need to use public transport, yet she’s happy for the Scottish Government to charter a private boat to take her to and from Rum.

“Her excuse for doing so – that, essentially, the CalMac timetable doesn’t suit – will go down like a lead balloon with Scotland’s island communities.

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“Those who rely on lifeline ferry services don’t have the luxury of hiring a private boat to travel.

“Instead, they are dependent on an ageing and unreliable CalMac fleet they’ve been lumbered with due to the scandalous incompetence of the Government Lorna Slater is at the centre of.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The minister is travelling to Rum early this morning to meet with islanders to discuss key issues, including the future of Kinloch Castle.

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“She will be travelling with members of the Isle of Rum Community Trust, as well as NatureScot and Scottish Government staff, by a charter operated by Western Isle Cruises.

“This will maximise time on island and support a small local business.”

Eight people, including islanders, will travel on the boat and the Government said costs would be published “in the normal way”.