§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action is being taken to improve the harbours at Church Bay, Rathlin and at Ballycastle, and to promote a better ferry service.
§ Mr. Needham
The Department of the Environment (Northern Ireland) has taken the following steps to improve the ferry service between Ballycastle and Rathlin:
- (a) Negotiations are under way with the ferry operators regarding the provison of an annual subsidy to ensure the continuance of the serviceand for a grant toward the improvement of the ferries, particularly as regards passenger safety and comfort.
- (b) Work is being carried out this year to improve acces s to Rathlin Harbour. Taking into account investigations at Ballycastle Harbour total expenditure this year will be over £300,000.
- (c) Plans to provide safe berthing at Ballycastle and to deepen the harbour at, and channel to, Rathlin Harbour have been agreed with the Moyle District Council which owns the harbours. These works have been estimated at almost £4 million and, subject to the availability of finance, are schedule for completion in 1993.
These actions will secure the ferry service in the short term and will allow the introduction of a modern service. The form of such a service has not yet been decided.