Page last updated at 11:18 GMT, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 12:18 UK

Call for review of ferry plan for stranded citizens

Hamnavoe
The decision to move the Hamnavoe 'outraged' islanders

The Scottish government's decision to remove lifeline Orkney ferry services to rescue people stranded by volcano disruption has been criticised.

Northlink's Hamnavoe has been taken off the Pentland Firth route to take UK citizens from Norway to Scotland.

And a new emergency shuttle service between Shetland and Aberdeen misses out Orkney completely.

Meanwhile, flights in and out of Orkney and Shetland were suspended again over fears about unsafe ash levels.

Air traffic authorities said they were expecting the levels of volcanic ash in the air above the Northern Isles to be above safe operating limits for aircraft between lunchtime and 1900 BST.

However, inter-island flights were not affected.

Island 'outrage'

Orkney Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur has called for a review of the ferry plans in the interests of "outraged" islanders.

Orkney Islands Council said it was not made aware of the plans to stop Orkney calls on Northlink's Aberdeen service during discussions with Scottish Ministers.

Mr McArthur said of the situation: "There is no doubt about the outrage that this has caused in Orkney.

"With flights starting to get under way again, the removal of the Hamnavoe and the loss of the service between Kirkwall and Aberdeen are even harder to justify.

"I therefore ask that this be reviewed as a matter of urgency and for the full NorthLink service to Orkney to be restored without delay."

Additional sailing

Hamnavoe is being used to bring hundreds of stranded UK citizens from Norway to Aberdeen.

The passengers have been stranded by the flight restrictions introduced following the volcanic eruptions in Iceland.

Hamnavoe is due to sail from Bergen to Aberdeen on Wednesday night with a Thursday mid-afternoon arrival time in Aberdeen.

NorthLink said its Pentland Firth service operating between Stromness in Orkney and Scrabster on the Scottish mainland was scheduled to resume at 0630 BST on Friday, and that an additional sailing from Aberdeen to Stromness was to be made available on Thursday night.

After her arrival in Stromness on Thursday night, Hamnavoe will resume normal service on the Pentland Firth at 0630 BST on Friday.



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