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      Uist and Benbecula News


Fears that fuel delivery in Uist was in jeopardy have been allayed by Certas, after the crucial delivery point at Loch Carnan was described by CalMac yesterday (Tuesday 14 May) as ‘condemned.’

The Ministry of Defence-owned Loch Carnan jetty provides the delivery point for Certas Energy, which delivers heating oil, kerosene, road fuel and red diesel.

Fuel is usually brought to the Loch Carnan jetty, which has four large storage tanks alongside it, by sea tankers such as the Thun Blyth, which also serves Stornoway.

But the small jetty in South Uist was described in a CalMac statement as ‘condemned’ in an update on the late return to service of the MV Finlaggan.

CalMac said ferry services to Lochboisdale by the MV Isle of Mull had to be maintained to ensure delivery of fuel, since sea deliveries had stopped at Loch Carnan.

But today a Certas Energy spokesperson told that, in fact, the Loch Carnan pier was closed in early April to allow engineers to inspect and report on the structure, ahead of a programme of repairs.

Ferry deliveries were, the spokesperson said, part of the well-understood contingency plan for any break in fuel delivery to the islands.

A spokesperson for Certas, who have responsibility for the maintenance of the facility, said: "Our structural engineers are carrying out surveys to assess any work needed on the jetty.

"While these assessments take place, we are operating under a contingency plan which has been used before in the same location, through which we arrange deliveries by CalMac, for as long as required.

"CalMac understands that fuel is the priority for everyone, so the contingency plan has been working well to maintain fuel stocks on the island."

The repairs and upgrades needed to the Loch Carnan pier are to the mooring infrastructure and don’t affect storage tanks nearby, which are still receiving fuel supplies by road.

The spokesperson said: "We haven't had any shortages of fuel to our knowledge. We will continue working with CalMac to ensure consistent fuel deliveries and to communicate that the site has not been 'condemned.'

“It’s an old jetty and it needs some work, but it has not been condemned.”

Fuel is also coming by tanker from Stornoway across the Clisham, with an extra sailing of the Sound of Harris ferry scheduled today (Wednesday) to ship tankers alongside holiday traffic.

CalMac’s description of the state of the pier has added to concern locally, with the Comhairle’s transport committee chair Councillor Uisdean Robertson telling “We have never seen it in black and white anywhere that the jetty has been condemned, but it has the potential to make a huge impact on ferry capacity.

“We first heard that there was any kind of a problem about a week ago, when people started to ask about ferry capacity.

“Everybody is dependent on fuel – the fish farms, businesses, the general public. We’ve just had rumours about the jetty, saying that it’s not being used, but I haven’t seen anything in writing.”

The pictures show the Loch Carnan jetty (Canmore) and the Thun Blyth tanker alongside the pier in 2021 (P J E Dekker/

This story has been updated since first publication to clarify information provided by Certas.

The pictures show the Loch Carnan jetty (Canmore) and the Thun Blyth tanker alongside the pier in 2021 (P J E Dekker/