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      Uist and Benbecula News

A five-year delay to the new ferry terminal at Gasaigh in Lochboisdale harbour announced by developer CMAL yesterday (Monday, May 27) has shocked and angered Stòras Uibhist, the community-owned South Uist estate.

Expressing their grave concern about the latest hold-up, Lochboisdale Development Limited chair Donnie Steele revealed: “We have had years of reports, consultations and engineering studies, but we now hear there is to be yet more delay.

"I call on the Scottish Government, Transport Scotland and CMAL to get around the table and sort this out once and for all. We need the new ferry terminal to be built at Gasaigh, and we need it now…not 2029.”

His concern has been echoed by Stòras Chair Mary Schmoller, who has called the delay a “ridiculous decision” and vowed the estate will demand answers and action.

“I would encourage all members of SnBM to do the same…write to your MSP, write to the Transport Minister and the First Minister and let them know we cannot accept yet more delays and uncertainty,” she added.

Their anger was sparked by a CMAL update that revisions deemed necessary to the Outline Business Case means it will be spring 2029 before work commences on the new Lochboisdale ferry terminal.

CMAL stated that a revised Outline Business Case will be produced by the late autumn of this year.

“This report will then undergo a further Scottish Government Gateway Review and will subsequently be presented to the CMAL board and the Transport Scotland Investment Decision Making board for funding. 

“The seeking of funding approval is programmed for early 2025. Assuming that funding is approved for the project to proceed, the revised expected date for commencement of operations from a new Lochboisdale ferry terminal is now spring 2029.”

The original Outline Business Case was reviewed last November, and several recommendations for improvements were made. Following this, CMAL drew up an action plan to address the recommendations.

However, an assessment by the independent Scottish Government Gateway Reviewer in March concluded that further work was still required to strengthen the project’s strategic mandate and better define the Do-Minimum options for consideration alongside the preferred option.

This further review means extensive additional technical and economic studies are now underway, which will lead to a revision of the OBC report addressing all the concerns and recommendations of the Government Gateway Review.

The new harbour at Gasaigh Island was constructed in 2015 and is part of the  Stòras Uibhist estate.

Image the existing Lochboisdale Pier - credit CMAL