RESIDENTS of Corran and Ardgour have told of their disappointment after Highland Council voted to appeal for £50 million from the UK’s Levelling Up fund for an electric ferry.

Many locals are pushing instead for a bridge over the short crossing at the Corran Narrows.

A petition was launched last week objecting to the council lodging the bid for funds.

The petition also urges the council to consider a fixed link as a long-term solution to the problem and remains active..

Its creator, Jeff Forrester, said: “Folk in Inverness who know little about our communities or businesses have decided for us.

“How can Highland Council say the businesses and residents are fully supportive if they have never carried out a due diligence survey or poll to ask what we want?”

On the Corran Narrows Crossing Facebook page, locals left scathing comments calling Highland Council “liars” for claiming to work in the community’s best interests and expressing disappointment.

The Scottish Government indicated that it does not back construction of a fixed link at Corran in the Strategic Transport Review.

Highland Council has said that building a bridge at the site is not feasible – but Forrester and others disagree.

The council will now request this funding from the UK Government, citing the ongoing issues with the MV Corran and MV Maid of Glencoul as the reason why a new vessel is needed.

The MV Corran has been in drydock since October 2022, and its replacement the MV Glencoul broke down in early April.

The route has been without a vessel ever since.

Corran Narrows is Scotland’s busiest single-vessel route making around 30,000 sailings annually.

Many of these sailings come courtesy of commuters making their way from the isolated areas of the Ardnamurchan peninsula, Morvern and Ardgour to work in Fort William.

Now, commuters must take a 42-mile detour rather than the short five-minute crossing.

Depending on the destination, these detours can be up to 86 miles.

The chair of the council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee, councillor Ken Gowans, said: “The loss of service due to the ageing vessels has brought into focus the need to look to the future and have a sustainable solution for the Corran Ferry crossing.

“I’m pleased that members have agreed we can press ahead with preparing an application to the Levelling Up fund and in the meantime, we will continue to work closely with the local communities to provide support and the current contingency measures will remain in place until the ferry is back in operation.”

Highland Council addressed concerns surrounding operating issues by revealing that a drive-on generator that can charge the batteries of the ferry for at least six hours will be used.

Councillors say that this will help greatly towards reaching the country’s net-zero carbon emissions target by removing the equivalent of their entire heavy fleet in marine oil.

In response to this, Forrester said: “I would really like to see the facts behind this twaddle of a statement.”

Conservative councillor Ruraidh Stewart, who is against the council’s plan, said: “This is a real missed opportunity to evaluate and consider the benefits that a fixed link will bring to the areas including 24/7 connectivity, improvised access for residents and visitors to services and employment.

“This would make a positive contribution to population retention and growth in the long term, improving business confidence, stimulating investment in the area, and boosting the economy.”