Stornoway Port Authority is on course to open a new and much-needed marina in the town’s harbour in 2020.

The marina will create 75 new berths at Newton Basin for leisure craft - increasing capacity to 155 – to tackle a shortage of facilities which is constraining potential growth in marine tourism.

It will open, appropriately, as Scotland marks the Year of Coasts and Waters in 2020 and will also herald the completion of the initial stage of the Port Authority’s ambitious 20-year Masterplan.

The first phase of the marina development is about to be completed.  RJ McLeod Contractors Ltd were awarded a £5 million contract in March 2019 that involved the dredging and reclamation of the area, thereby creating the platform for further development.

The pontoon contract has been awarded, with completion expected in March 2020 and the marina will open immediately thereafter. A yacht lift facility will open later next year, while work on the remaining projects, including a marine engineering workshop and shellfish processing facility, will also be progressed in 2020.

The £11 million Newton Basin/Goat Island project has received £3.5 million from Highlands and Islands Enterprise as well as £2.75 million from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Scottish Government via the Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.

The new facilities will complement the Port Authority’s existing marina that was expanded in 2014 and can take 80 leisure craft. However, the berths filled up soon after they were installed and there has been a shortage of space during the summer and winter seasons.

The Outer Hebrides is a key sailing destination for visitors, and Stornoway is an important link in the chain of marinas stretching from the Butt of Lewis to the Isle of Barra.

Alex Macleod, Stornoway Port Authority’s Chief Executive, said: “2020 will be an exciting year for the Port Authority and our ambitions to improve facilities and maximise economic opportunities for the Outer Hebrides.”

“Completing the marina project will represent an important milestone and provide a significant asset at a time when the focus will be on marine leisure facilities during the Year of Coasts and Waters.”

Progress is also being made on another part of the Masterplan, the creation of a deep water port at Stornoway.Earlier this month the Port Authority was granted planning permission in principle for the peripheral activities associated with the deep water port.

The deep water port will be one of the biggest projects ever undertaken in the Hebrides and is regarded as being essential in allowing the Outer Hebrides to benefit from the growing cruise tourism market that will bring new income and jobs to the islands.

Creating facilities to allow berthing of cruise ships up to 350 metres long will help attract an additional 35-40 vessels a year, creating a significant number of business opportunities throughout the island as visitor numbers entering through the port continue to increase.

The engineering works to create the quay and platform areas are consented via the Harbour Revision Order granted in March 2019.

In April this year, marine consulting civil engineers Wallace Stone were awarded the contract to design Phase 1 of the deep water port. The design process will be ongoing in 2020 and it is hoped that the final design will be completed and that a fully consented project will be achieved in 2020.

The next stage in advancing the project will see new seabed investigation works carried out to provide further information on the geology in the harbour.

Alex Macleod added: “These tests are part of the ongoing investigation work needed to prepare the best design for the deep water port.

“The results will provide us with the best technical data on the complex geology in the harbour and to reduce the construction risks associated with such a major project.

“This process will result in further development of the layout and design of the deep water port and is essentially to reduce all project risks to an absolute minimum. This major project will be developed further in 2020 ensuring that the economic benefits can be realised as soon as possible.“