THE future of ferry services in the Outer Hebrides is to be examined in a new study.

The research will look at ways to improve links to, from and within the Western Isles, identified as a priority area by Transport Scotland. A team examining options for future investment will be visiting communities to gather views of ferry users, businesses, tourists and local representatives.

Transport minister Humza Yousaf said: “Our ferry services play a crucial role for the communities of the Clyde and Hebrides, and we want to progressively renew the fleet operating on these routes and ensure the provision of suitable services to meet the needs of island communities and businesses, in line with available funding.

“This study will look at potential options for the future of the network serving the Outer Hebrides, including adapting timetables, new vessels, redeploying existing ferries and upgrading harbours.

“Our consultants will speak with local stakeholders and the public to hear their views.”