§ 26. Mr. Macdonald
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what improvements he plans to transport links in the Highlands and Islands in the current financial year. 
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
In 1996–97 I have approved investment by Caledonian MacBrayne in a new minor vessel to provide the ferry service across the sound of Harris. I shall provide financial assistance for the improvement of harbour works connected with this service at Newton ferry, North Uist, and Leverburgh, Harris. I shall also be providing financial assistance for the construction of both the new ferry terminal in Stornoway harbour and for the improvement of the ferry berth at Ullapool harbour to provide new berthing facilities for the new major vessel operated by Caledonian MacBrayne on the Ullapool-Stornoway service. Highlands and Islands Airports Limited is pursuing the redevelopment of Inverness airport terminal under the private finance initiative.
The proposed causeway at Berneray is the responsibility of Western Isles Council. The council has received an offer of European regional development fund objective 1 funding of up to 50 per cent. of the estimated 562W project cost. The project will also be considered for challenge funding in future years if and when the council submits an application to the Scottish Office.
Two major trunk road schemes are planned to start, to improve the A830 between Polnish bridge and Loch Nan Uamh and the A9 between Logie Easter and Garrick bridge. Almost £16 million has also been allocated for maintenance and minor improvements to the trunk road network.