TROON harbour may be used as a back-up port for the Arran Ferry while improvement works take place in Ardrossan, as limits cause fears for the island’s economy.

A planning application has been lodged for improvements in Troon to allow the vessel to dock there as an alternative to the Irish berth in Ardrossan.

Troon Harbour owners, Associated British Ports (ABP), made an application with the Scottish Government to try and entice them to permanently move the ferry to the South Ayrshire town but this was knocked back by then Transport Minister Humza Yousaf after months of campaigning by both residents of Troon and those from Ardrossan and Arran.

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “Associated British Ports is considering works that would make it easier for Calmac vessels to berth there if required due to any unexpected outage at other ports.”

Contingency planning for the Ardrossan multi-million pound harbour development project is currently being developed, with the Irish berth being used as the primary dock during the two year construction period.

In the event that the Irish berth is unavailable during the works, Troon is being considered as an alternative mainland berth.

An ABP spokesperson said: “We are working closely with Transport Scotland and Calmac to develop ways in which we can help offer additional resilience to ferry services on the network and potentially assist during the period of construction at Ardrossan terminal.”

CalMac published a new timetable at the weekend which increased the number of sailings serving the main Ardrossan to Brodick route.

Despite this, tourism businesses on the isle are contemplating staying closed until 2021 amid continuing concern over the lack of ferry capacity serving the island.

With the two-metre social distancing rule constraining passenger numbers, there are fears the additional sailings will not be enough to support the tourism industry.

The Arran Ferry Action Group says some businesses on the island are deciding whether to ‘hunker down’ and remain in mothballs until next year.

Sam Bourne, a group spokesman, said: “I know some businesses have decided not to reopen, hotels, guest houses, and self-catering accommodation providers. They do not have the confidence to hire staff, they do not have the confidence to buy stock and consumables to feed people.”