The Kilcreggan ferry Chieftain on the Firth of Clyde.
By Aileen MacLennan
Work is progressing on giving piers and harbours in Argyll and Bute a makeover as part of a £9.2 million investment by the council to support island and rural communities with marine links to the mainland and/or central belt.
The council has prioritised lifeline ferry services in its Marine Asset Management Plan (AMP), and piers across Argyll and Bute are being upgraded to accommodate Caledonian Maritime Asset Limited’s (CMAL) new vessels.
The council has already carried out shore power upgrades in Fionnphort to ensure the vessels can charge overnight, and work is now underway to do the same on Gigha. Safe boarding for crew and passengers is a priority, and the council will improve access at Fionnphort, Feolin, Dunoon and Kilcreggan as part of the plan. The council will also carry out a review of its own ferry services infrastructure as part of the process.
Iona and Fionnphort
The council hopes to start work at Iona in spring/summer next year. Alongside this, work is progressing at Fionnphort to ensure sheltered, overnight berthing can take place, safe access for crew and passengers, and provision of charging facilities. The council is also carrying out a traffic survey at the terminal to improve traffic management.
Ground works are due to start soon on the new terminal at Craignure.
The council has commissioned a study to determine options for the existing marshalling area at Port Askaig following unsuccessful attempts to purchase land for additional space.
Dunoon and Kilcreggan
CMAL plans to introduce new vessels at Dunoon and Kilcreggan that will see an improvement in the reliability and resilience of the service for commuters and visitors. Ground investigation work is ready to start as soon as Transport Scotland confirms vessel funding.
Plans for Feolin include the improved infrastructure required for a new replacement vessel, as well as the installation of a pontoon for use when the passenger-only service is in operation. The council will also investigate accommodation and other shore-side facilities at Port Askaig as a priority to support the Jura service.
The council is carrying out a feasibility study to confirm that the new vessel will be able to charge on the island overnight.
Campbeltown and Rothesay
The council is progressing plans to extend and/or strengthen Campbeltown Pier. It is also exploring options for the Rothesay Harbour Quay stabilisation works following failed tenders for piling and grouting works, and will be carrying out a further tender exercise soon.
The council’s Policy Lead for Roads and Transport, Councillor Andrew Kain, said: “Argyll and Bute’s unique geographic landscape means that our piers and harbours are a vital part of our local infrastructure, and provide a vital lifeline service for our island communities.
“We are making a substantial financial investment to our piers and harbours as part of our plan and I look forward to seeing these plans progress.”
Public to have their say as Oban Harbour Authority plans progress
Members of the public are to have their say on Argyll and Bute Council’s plans to create a Municipal Harbour Authority in Oban.
The council is already the Harbour Authority for Oban North Pier, and while CMAL/CalMac and Northern Lighthouse all have responsibility for separate areas within the bay, the approaches in and out of the bay are currently unregulated. The council therefore wants to establish a Harbour Authority so that it can enforce positive safety measures.
At a meeting of the Argyll and Bute Harbour Board, councillors approved a draft Harbour Revision Order (HRO) for submission to Transport Scotland, which is the next stage prior to an extensive statutory public consultation process that will invite comments over a 42-day period.
Policy Lead for Roads and Transport, Councillor Andrew Kain, said: “We have been in positive discussions with Transport Scotland over the last few months regarding the draft order, and we now look forward to the final and formal consultation process with Transport Scotland.”
“We will announce further details of this formal public consultation soon. Following the consultation period, the HRO application will go forward to the Scottish Government for ministers to consider.”