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Rock armour installation at Barra Airport

Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd. (HIAL) have notified the Comhairle of a proposal to install rock armour at Barra Airport in Tràigh Mhòr bay.

The armour is required, say the applicant's agent, to reinforce the riverbank of a river adjacent to one of the designated runways.

The river emerges from a culvert underneath the road adjacent to Barra Airport. It is turned 90 degrees by a bank consisting of stone and sediment to run parallel to the road and out to sea. 

According to the design document, the river bank has been maintained using dredging, sandbags, cement bags, and loose rock. However, it is subject to damage and wash out from tidal action.

Without this diversion, the river would naturally flow across the shore over one of the airport's designated runways. Breaches to the riverbank would result in water flowing over the runway and taking it out of service. 

The Manchester-based agent also states there has been some success in building up the riverbank, but the current solution requires repeated maintenance and dredging approximately six to eight times per year.

The 10-week long project, scheduled for April next year, involves reusing excavated sediment and 1,824 tonnes of locally-sourced boulders.

The applicant, HIAL, is seeking written confirmation from the Comhairle that the proposed project does not require an Environmental Impact Assessment. This request is because the airport lies within the Eoligarry Site of Special Scientific Interest.

HIAL has applied for planning consent to erect a new appliance bay and refurbish the main terminal building in a separate submission.