Stornoway Port Authority is preparing to move into a new era as it seeks to progress a series of major developments in line with its 20-year Masterplan.

The Authority has set out ambitious proposals, including the creation of a deep-water port which will bring major economic benefits to the island.

This will help accelerate growth in the cruise business, by providing a berth for larger ships, as well as providing improved berthing and servicing for oil and renewables projects and a new linkspan/freight ferry berth.

As these various important projects advance, the SPA will appoint new Board members and personnel with appropriate skills and expertise to guide future development.

Margaret Ann Macleod - pictured above with Board chairman Murdo Murray - has been confirmed as a full board member for a three-year term, having previously been co-opted for a year. Presently Brand Development Director for Harris Tweed Hebrides, her business background includes international sales and rural economic development.  Margaret Ann said: “I am delighted to become a full member of the Board at this crucial and exciting time for the Port Authority and the wider community”.

“Our bold ambitions can bring enormous benefits to the island and I am determined to help bring the Masterplan vision to fruition.”

Murdo Murray said: “Margaret Ann is well known and highly respected in the business community and is a significant addition to the Board.”

“Having already served as a co-opted member, we know how important her contribution will be to our future plans and we look forward to having her valuable input as a full board member.”

After two and a half years service, Tony Morrison has stepped down as Harbourmaster. The Port Authority wishes to thank Tony for his commitment and contribution to the Authority and wish him well in his new venture.  Consequently the Port Authority have taken the opportunity to revise the role of Harbourmaster to fulfil the demands of its 20-year Masterplan and will shortly advertise for the role of Harbourmaster/Operations Manager to support the major changes which are planned.

Assisting SPA Chief Executive, Alex MacLeod, with the development of the Masterplan will be Brenda Jones, who has recently joined the Authority as Developments Manager. This new post, partly funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, is specifically aimed at driving forward the major Masterplan proposals.  Brenda, a Chartered Project Management Surveyor, will use her experience on many large construction projects, which included the Consultant Project Manager role on the recent redevelopment of Lews Castle in Stornoway, to guide future projects.

Alex MacLeod, said: “We are moving into a period of significant change for Stornoway and the Authority as these crucial developments take shape. As the port changes, so we must adapt at all levels to ensure each project is put in place to maximise the potential for the people who live and work here.

“Margaret Ann’s knowledge and business acumen will also be invaluable as we take these important steps forward for the community.

“Brenda has a wealth of experience in bringing forward large-scale programmes and her expertise will be of enormous benefit in the coming months and years. She will work with our new Harbourmaster/Operations Manager to ensure we get the right designs and adopt the right procedures for the multi-functional deep water port.

“We expect further changes to the Board and operations as these projects come on stream and we adapt to a changing operating environment.”

Last month tests began to help pave the way for the creation of the deep-water port at Stornoway. A series of 24 boreholes in the seabed will help determine the depths, materials and locations to be dredged, as well as data required to design the reclamation and berthing structures adjacent to Arnish and the marina at Newton basin.

It is estimated the cruise sector alone could generate significant additional income for the islands by creating berthing facilities for larger vessels that cannot currently berth alongside.  Stornoway is an established port on the cruise circuit, attracting 66 ships in 2016. However, it currently attracts relatively few large cruise vessels, as those over 156 metres in length cannot berth alongside, and passengers are brought ashore by small boat.  To maintain and grow the cruise market, Stornoway needs a facility for berthing cruise ships of 330 metres or more. This would attract an additional 20-25 vessels a year and increasing passenger visits towards the levels experienced in Orkney and Shetland, creating a significant number of business opportunities throughout the island as visitor numbers entering through the port continue to increase.

The Masterplan also identified a shortage of yacht berths and amenities constraining potential growth in marine tourism.

Stornoway Port Authority was also recently chosen as one of the first recipients of a grant from the Scottish Government’s Decommissioning Challenge Fund. It received an offer of up to £73,000 to support work on a number of feasibility studies, including an environmental impact assessment, an engineering assessment and a local recycling options investigation to develop decommissioning options at the Arnish site.