A draft masterplan outlining a 20-year vision for the development of Stornoway Harbour has been published by Stornoway Port Authority.
The strategic document — now out for public consultation — was prepared by consultants Fisher Associates, who specialise in port masterplans and other maritime related work.
It identifies a number of projects which would boost facilities for various sectors, from ferries and cruise ships through to renewables and oil exploration, and could dramatically improve Stornoway’s economic future.
The ‘first phase’ of proposals have been estimated at approximately £66million and includes the creation of an estimated £50million deep water facility on the south east of the harbour, plus the redevelopment of the Goat Island boatyard and creation of a new marina at Newton with an estimated cost of £10million. Other important improvements to facilities in the harbour, such as pontoons for the fishermen, landscaping, and ferry access road improvements are also included.
This first phase of work has been described by the Port Authority as “absolutely essential to the future of the port and a major driver for the island economy”.
The deep water facility is the clear priority for Stornoway Port Authority because it would address many of the port’s immediate needs, such as a large berth for renewables, an offshore servicing base, a cruise berth, and a new linkspan / freight ferry berth.
A deep water facility would enable growth in the cruise sector by allowing the larger ships, which currently bring passengers ashore by tender, to berth alongside. It would also make the Port more attractive to a greater number of cruise ship operators, and could eventually bring up to an additional £4million a year into the local economy. The new facility would also provide bulk cargo handling and storage facilities, and the ability to relocate the oil terminal and storage tanks out of the centre of Stornoway.
Another area to be developed in the first phase is the boatyard at Goat Island, the only significant facility of its kind in the Outer Hebrides, and one of the largest on the west coast of Scotland. It carries out repairs and maintenance on fishing boats and leisure craft, but needs additional capability such as a covered slipway and side-slipping improvements.
Newton Bay Marina would be established on the northern side of Goat Island with some limited dredging, reclamation works and the building of a short breakwater. It would have around 75 berths and associated onshore facilities, nearly doubling Stornoway’s capacity. The 80 berths in the marina at Cromwell Street quay are already operating at full capacity during the summer months.
This proposal ties in with the Scottish Government’s marine tourism strategy, ‘Awakening the Giant’, which aims for a 25 per cent increase in the sector between 2015 and 2020 and has Stornoway and the Outer Hebrides at its heart.
The Masterplan identifies a number of other desirable projects, including the development of Bayhead estuary, which would involve the creation of a lagoon between Cromwell Street quay and the YM bridge. It would be formed by a tidal sill, topped with walking access into the Castle Grounds, and would provide a good sheltered environment for youth activities such as dinghy training and canoeing.
There are also possibilities, in the future once earlier developments have reached full potential, to build a third marina in Stornoway, in Sandwick Bay.
All the options are up for discussion during the public consultation period between now and January 13, 2017.
The Masterplan document is available for viewing online on Stornoway Port Authority’s website at www.stornowayportauthority.com/masterplan, with hard copies available on request.
Drop-in sessions will be held in Stornoway Ferry Terminal on December 13 and 14, where bigger versions of the plans will be on display and the consultants will be present. The sessions are December 13 from 10.30am to 12.30pm, 2pm to 4pm and 5.30pm to 7.30pm.
On December 14, the drop-in will be from 10.30am to 12.30pm and a public meeting will be held in An Lanntair at 6.30pm, where the plans will again be on show and comments welcomed.
Urging people to engage, Alex Macleod, Stornoway Port Authority Chief Executive, said: “This consultation process is important for the development of our Port Masterplan and we encourage the community to get involved in the process. A lot of research and engagement with key stakeholders has been progressed to get to this stage, and this public consultation is the final part of the process.”
“The Port must update what is generally 100-year-old infrastructure, and we must move forward to ensure we can accommodate modern ships and industries.”