Scotland’s ‘green’ ferry to begin service using diesel fuel

Yet another ‘ferry story’ from the basket case SNP government

Glen Sannox

BBC Scotland is reporting that one of the ferries in a controversial Scottish government contract will initially only operate on diesel – despite being built to also run with liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The Glen Sannox is one of two delayed and overbudget dual-fuel vessels.

Builder Ferguson Marine has told MSPs a “technical issue” had delayed part of the LNG system by at least nine months.

The vessel was once hailed as a step towards a greener future for Scotland’s state-owned CalMac ferry fleet.

The technical issue relates to delays in the supply of sensors needed for the LNG fuel system.

The yard is now proposing the Glen Sannox runs only on diesel until the LNG sensors can be fitted next summer.

David Tydeman, chief executive of Ferguson Marine, wrote to MSPs to tell them of his proposed fix.

He said: “Our emerging proposal to deal with this is to maintain the programme for handover of the ship by the end of May latest, initially running only with the diesel, single fuel system.

“The LNG system will be essentially complete on ship by this time and hence we believe we can install the sensors later whilst the vessel is in service during next summer.”

Advocates of LNG argue that it is less harmful to the environment than traditional marine fuels such as oil or diesel.

However, this does not take into account greenhouse emissions during extraction and transport of the gas.

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Graham Simpson, right, said: “This revelation just adds to the shambles around the building of this vessel, which was supposed to be climate-friendly.

“Surely it was known these sensors would be needed but now we are going to be left with a gas guzzling, climate-busting ferry for at least the first nine months of its service.”

“No doubt this will also increase the already spiralling cost of the Glen Sannox.”

The two vessels being built by Ferguson Marine, Glen Sannox and the unnamed Hull 802, will be more than £150m over budget and five years late when eventually delivered.

‘No adverse issues’

A BBC Scotland documentary in September uncovered irregularities in the awarding of the original £97m contract – indicating that Ferguson Marine benefited from preferential treatment.

Government-owned ferries agency CMAL defended the procurement and said a 2018 audit found “no adverse issues”. However, Scotland’s Auditor General has been asked to investigate.

A spokesperson for CMAL said: “It is disappointing that there will be a delay to the commissioning of LNG on Glen Sannox, however it is still our intention to commission the LNG tanks for both Glen Sannox and Hull 802.”

A Scottish government spokesman said it had been informed of the LNG issue.

He added: “Ministers are seeking urgent options on the next steps and expect all possible measures to be taken to deliver the vessel to serve islanders as soon as possible.”

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