Highland Council says plans to redevelop Uig pier on the isle of Skye have been shelved because of a shortfall in Scottish Government project funding - despite being part of a project which is seeing a new ferry built - albeit years behind schedule and massively over-budget - and major port improvements at Lochmaddy and Tarbert.
The local authority said tenders returned for the project “exceeded the funding allocation from Transport Scotland”.
In a letter to MSP Rhoda Grant this week, council officials said: “Unfortunately, the tenders returned for Uig exceeded the funding allocation from Transport Scotland – and whilst we and Transport Scotland remain committed to provide enhanced facilities at Uig – construction works have been paused whilst we reconsider procurement routes and budgets. This will mean that we will not be able to progress the works and thus the outage that was planned from September of next year will now be deferred for at least 12 months.”
Strengthening of the council-owned berth is required for the delayed replacement of MV Hebrides.
Mrs Grant said while the new pier was not needed right away, this highlighted major concern over the government’s willingness to adequately fund infrastructure projects.
She said: “The council has made it clear that the tenders are so far out they have had to pull this project for the foreseeable future. The community will want to understand what has gone wrong and I am writing to the council and to the government’s Transport Secretary Michael Matheson to get some answers.
It appears the government hasn’t managed to do its sums correctly and has underfunded this scheme.”
Mrs Grant has been in correspondence with the council and the Equality and Human Rights Commission over the suitability of the scheme for people with disabilities.
She added: “Concerns were raised that the plan to upgrade the pier does not include disabled access the water so I asked Highland Council to give me a commitment that an Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) would be undertaken before any works went ahead. When I asked for an update this week I was surprised to be told that it had not been done and that the scheme was being shelved.”