The figure of over £800m was contained in a report provided to Transport Scotland following an assessment by Government-run CMAL, which owns CalMac's boats on the Hebrides and Clyde routes.

The report said the works could cost £700m but suggested that these figures should be uplifted by 20% to take account of inflation and additional costs.

‘This is not the sum that OIC is asking for. What the Council is asking for is that the Government work with us on the replacement of our ageing ferry fleet,’ said council leader James Stockan.

‘We do not know yet exactly what will be required as this will depend on the source and type of funding solution proposed. Until we have a starting point, no-one can know the actual figures involved. The starting point has to be a firm budget commitment from the Government to fund a ferry replacement programme.’

He added: ‘If and we sincerely hope when, the ferry replacement programme goes ahead, the detailed specification will need to be set out and further developed.’

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