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CalMac has this afternoon (Thursday 23 March) confirmed that it has diverted sailings away from Uig Harbour.

The announcement follows Highland Council’s bombshell last night, that vehicles greater than 10 metres in length are unable to travel through Uig, due to issues with turning space at the port.

Normal timetabled sailings were expected to resume today following harbour works carried out by Highland Council.

Instead, customers who intended travelling via Uig are being diverted via Stornoway and Ullapool, with an additional service between Tarbert and Lochmaddy.

From 24 March – 27 March CalMac will revert to the Uig closure services with a daily service provided between Lochmaddy – Ullapool.

A CalMac spokeswoman said: “We were assured by Highland Council, who are the harbour authority, that there would be no restrictions on operations at Uig - however, this has now been proven to not be the case.

“We are seeking urgent confirmation of the situation from Highland Council as this has caused enormous disruption and upset to our customers. We are pressing Highland Council to resolve this matter as quickly as possible so that we can resume our services to Uig.

“We plan to resume normal Little Minch services on (Tuesday) 28 March. However, we will continue to liaise closely with the Highland Council and monitor the situation at Uig. We will provide further updates as we progress.

“We fully appreciate and share the frustration felt by communities regarding this very late notice from Highland Council, which brings more uncertainty to our communities regarding the reopening of Uig.

“Please be assured that we are working closely with The Highland Council and will provide a further update as soon as we are able to.”

Earlier today Highland Council said: “Following a live trial of the berthing of the MV Hebrides last night, an issue has arisen with the temporary bridge at Uig harbour.

“Whilst the ferry service will be back on the route today, longer vehicles travelling from Uig to the islands are having to be rerouted through Ullapool.

“This is due to the alignment of the bridge not allowing the necessary turning movement for longer vehicles.

“A solution is being developed and likely to be in place by Saturday. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to HGV operators and other long vehicle users.”

The apology is small comfort for CalMac, who say that they ‘share the frustration’ of island travellers, as they are faced with contacting drivers to tell them that their travel cannot go ahead.

CalMac’s area operations manager Fiona Galbraith said: “Late yesterday afternoon, The Highland Council informed us there may be some restrictions for certain vehicles travelling on the temporary structure at Uig.

“Following a vehicle trial yesterday evening arranged by the council, these restrictions were confirmed and our affected customers were contacted.”

The news caused rage, disbelief and frustration among customers, including businesses and hauliers who had been awaiting the resumption of normal service between Lochmaddy, Tarbert and Uig for 13 weeks.

One commenter described it as ‘a schoolboy error’ and said: “Some engineering genius is being paid a fortune for this.” Another asked Highland Council: “Are you going to be compensating HGV drivers for your failings?”

Harris councillor Grant Fulton posted on social media: “I don’t quite know what to say. You really couldn’t make this up.

“The list of vehicles which now can’t use our lifeline ferry are long wheelbase coaches, car/4x4 towing a trailer, large campervans, low loaders, step frame trailers, tankers (cement and gas) and livestock lorries.

“Large vehicles seem to be able to disembark at Uig, it’s getting on at Uig that’s the issue. Hopefully it will be resolved at the weekend.”

Picture from CalMac.