Finlay Carson, the recently elected MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries made his first official visit to leading ferry company Stena Line’s Loch Ryan Port at Cairnryan recently.
Paul Grant, Stena Line’s Route Manager for its Cairnryan-Belfast service welcomed the MSP and provided an update on the company’s operation since it moved to Cairnryan in 2011 as part of an £80m investment programme.
Stena Line are one of the largest employers in Finlay Carson’s constituency with nearly 250 staff living in and around the Dumfries and Galloway area. This represents almost half of Stena Line’s workforce for the route providing an average salary of approximately £29,000 per annum, which is amongst the highest in the region. Nationally, the Stena Group employs over 1700 staff across Scotland across its ferry, ship management and drilling businesses.
Speaking after the visit, Paul Grant said: “The meeting was extremely positive and one of the key areas of mutual interest that came out of the meeting was the issue of road improvements to and from Loch Ryan. We have been lobbying hard over recent years for road improvements in the area and while there has been progress we are heartened to learn that like us, Finlay Carson believes that more can be done, especially in respect of the A75. If we look around at other ports around the UK that have attracted significant investment to help their road accessibility, there are obvious examples of this, £125m M6 Link Road at Heysham and the £500m A55 upgrade for Holyhead Port.
“The concern is that over time, there is the real prospect that more and more freight trade will gravitate to these and other ports at the expense of Loch Ryan if the current poor road infrastructure situation remains unresolved.”
Finlay Carson said: “We discussed many items including the need for more upgrades to the A75. I also raised the issue of the pier that Stena Line vacated in Stranraer and pressed them on the need to increase the collective stakeholder effort to improve that area of the town to help its future regeneration. The Port at Cairnryan is of strategic importance to the local economy and to Scotland’s transport network as a whole. I look forward to working positively with Stena Line in the future to take some of the issues raised at our meeting forward.”