Vehicle ferry service - Dunoon & Gourock route: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

1. Confirm whether or not the Scottish Government's official policy to have a vehicle ferry service on the Dunoon gourock route has actually changed.

2. If it has changed please give the date the change was made.

3. Advise the person or person who made the decision to change the policy.

4. Advise whether or not all Scottish Ministers were consulted before the change was made.

5. Advise whether or not any Scottish Ministers disagreed with the change and, if so, whom.

6. Were minutes were taken of any consultation and the decision.

7. Please provide the evidence given to the Ministers to show that having a vehicle service on the town centre crossing would increase vehicle emissions as in fact the contrary is true; having a reliable vehicle ferry service on the town centre crossing would reduce road traffic.

8. Please advise if Ministers were made aware that Transport Scotland dispute the figures contained in the Audit scotland report particularly the cost given for new vessels.

9. As originally asked for details of the procedure followed.


The Scottish Government policy objective for the Gourock Dunoon Ferry Service as set out in the 2013 MVA Feasibility Study was:

‘that there shall be a safe, reliable, frequent, commuter ferry service between Dunoon town centre and the rail terminal at Gourock. The service must be able to operate reliably throughout the year in the weather and sea conditions experienced on the Firth of Clyde and provide an acceptable level of comfort to meet the reasonable expectations of users including commuters, the elderly and disabled and tourists. It is the wish of Scottish Ministers that the ferry service shall carry both vehicles and passengers.’

This remains largely the case, with the exception that the future ferry service will not carry vehicles, as outlined by Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands in a statement to the Scottish Parliament on 12 December 2018. A news release to this effect was also made on 12 December 2018.

Scottish Ministers were consulted on the decision to transfer responsibility for a passenger-only ferry service to CalMac; that consultation and decision was recorded. By definition, no Ministers disagreed with the decision because of the principle of collective responsibility, which means that “all decisions reached by the Scottish Ministers, individually or collectively, are binding on all members of the Government” (paragraph 2.1 of the Scottish Ministerial Code).

It is manifestly evident that a vehicle service on the town centre crossing would increase vehicle emissions in both town centres. The decision to have a passenger-only service reflects Low Carbon Policy developments which encourage the use of public transport and the promotion of active travel to reduce vehicle emissions.

The decision made by the Scottish Ministers was based on Transport Scotland’s figures for new vessels, not those estimated by DML as referenced in the Audit Scotland Report.

The procedure followed was as stated above.

About FOI
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

Back to top