Work is about to start on a milestone development to create a new marina at Stornoway as part of an ambitious long-term vision for the town’s harbour.
Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy Kate Forbes joined representatives from Stornoway Port Authority and local organisations at a turf-cutting ceremony at Newton where the new facility will be built.
The Port Authority revealed that firm RJ McLeod Contractors Ltd has won a £5 million contract for the marina which will be the anchor project on the site as part of its 20-year Master Plan for the harbour.
The upgraded marina will see the creation of 70 new berths for leisure craft, a marine engineering workshop and infrastructure to support future development including business/industrial and leisure.
The project will provide much-needed facilities for local and visiting sailors and tackle a shortage of yacht berths and amenities which is constraining potential growth in marine tourism.
The Port Authority has a popular marina that was expanded in 2014 and can take 80 leisure craft. However, the berths filled up soon after they were installed and there is now a shortage of space during the summer and winter seasons.
As part of the Master Plan, the Port Authority also aims to create a deep-water port which is crucial to accelerate local growth in the burgeoning cruise business, by providing improved facilities for larger ships that cannot currently berth alongside.
Alex Macleod, Chief Executive of Stornoway Port Authority, said: “The awarding of this contract represents a significant milestone in our plans to develop a new marina and for the entire Master Plan.
“Stornoway needs these facilities to maintain and enhance its share of the growing leisure sector. It will be a significant asset for the port, the island community and our visitors and bring considerable economic benefits to the area.”
RJ McLeod site agent Kevin Smith said: “RJ McLeod are delighted to have been selected to carry out the Newton Marina Works and back working on the Isle of Lewis. We have a long history of successfully completing projects on the islands and we continue to maintain our strong ties. We aim wherever possible to utilise local contractors and resources to complement our own workforce and to engage with the community.
“The Newton Marina works are a milestone project for the Port Authority and are of great importance to Stornoway and the Island as a whole. RJ McLeod are pleased to be able to play our part in this project and help to create work opportunities during the construction phase as well as leave a high quality marina which locals and visitors will enjoy using for many years to come.”
Earlier this year, Deputy First Minister, John Swinney visited the port to learn about the Master Plan.
Through the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Scottish Government are contributing £2.75 million to this project, while the Board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) approved £3.5 million.
Public Finance Minister, Kate Forbes said: “It’s fantastic to see the creation of the new marina at Newton take a step forward today. Communities in Lewis and further afield already benefit from marine tourism, and this new development will unlock further potential for businesses, jobs and prosperity.
“I recognise the work that has already gone into the development, and I’m certain the benefits will be far-reaching.
“Our coasts continue to draw visitors and are at the heart of Scotland’s economy and our plans for jobs and growth.”
Today’s turf-cutting ceremony was also attended by representatives from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council), Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Stornoway Sailing Club.
Comhairle Leader, Roddie Mackay, said: “The Comhairle warmly welcomes the announcement of a new contract for the marina. This is a timely boost for our local economy, resulting in additional business, jobs and prosperity and we are confident that the creation of a new marina at Newton will have a positive effect on the wider economy for years to come.
“We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Stornoway Port Authority.”
Rachel Mackenzie, Area Manager for HIE in the Outer Hebrides, said: “Our islands are a key sailing destination for visitors and Stornoway is an important link in the chain of marinas in the Outer Hebrides.
“These improved facilities will boost the town’s offering and we are very pleased to support the SPA’s Newton Basin project which aims to safeguard the crucial role of the port in supporting the economic growth of our islands.
“Marine tourism makes a significant contribution to the development of the islands and the town’s harbour is an integral part of what makes Stornoway and the Outer Hebrides a leading tourist destination in the UK.”
Stornoway Sailing Club Chairman Toby Marshall said: “The new marina will be an extremely welcome development for the sailing community. The port authority must be commended for building these improved facilities as part of its Master Plan, which will bring great benefits to local groups and also visitors in the fast-growing leisure sailing sector.
“The development will also give the club and other marine leisure groups an opportunity to work together to increase participation in watersports in Stornoway harbour.”