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Hebrides News


Plans to rebuild three harbours to accommodate a new £49 million ferry on the Skye triangle route will be discussed at public exhibitions taking place this week.


The MV Hebrides is set to be replaced in 12 months by a newly constructed 102-metre long “green” dual fuel ship. She will use the cleaner liquefied natural gas (LNG) though her engines can also operate on marine diesel.


Government agency Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (Cmal) will own the vessel and lease her to Cal Mac.


Bigger and more powerful than the existing vessel, the new ferry - being built at Ferguson’s yard on the Clyde - is designed to carry up to 1,000 passengers. Her car deck will be about 25% bigger than the Hebrides and will be able to load 127 cars or 16 lorries, or a combination of both.


Before she can be put into service each piers at Skye, Lochmaddy and Tarbert have to be upgraded and strengthened to accommodate her larger bulk.


Waiting areas for vehicles will be expanded, ticket offices rebuilt, and the seabed dredged.


Part of the shoreline will be reclaimed from the sea to enlarge the working area for ferry traffic.


Engineers have been hired to draw up the redesign of harbours on the Western Isles’ side of the Minch.


Tarbert pier is owned by Cmal while the Lochmaddy ferry terminal belongs to the comhairle.

Consultation meetings in April were told the timescales are “tight” for Lochmaddy pier improvements.


Delays have also arisen at Uig pier in Skye because Balfour Beatty - contracted by Highland Council - withdrew “due to the complex nature of the construction work.”


With Uig harbour exposed to westerly winds which frequently affect berthing, Cmal was asked about determining the best orientation for the pier. The agency said it will review the layout but the "costs of providing a completely new facility may be prohibitive."


Local communities and other interested parties can comment on proposals before final applications for the works at each port are submitted.


Ruth McIntosh, principal planning engineer at CMAL said the agency has taken local feedback onboard and are now returning with developments to the initial ideas.


She said this week’s “public exhibitions are an opportunity for communities to see how the plans have developed and have their say on the proposals.”


“We are now completing what we call the port master plans.


“Drawings showing the preferred options for work at each harbour will be discussed at the exhibitions.


“No final decisions have been made on what work will be carried out, and the works are subject to funding availability.


“We encourage those with an interest in this prospective work to come along to find out more and ask questions.”


The drop-in public exhibitions are open between 4pm and 7pm in Uig Community Centre tonight (Mon), Harris Hotel, Tarbert tomorrow (Tues) and Lochmaddy Hall on Wednesday.


Three piers to be upgraded for new £49 million ferry  

4 Sept 2017

The new ferry is due to start service this time next year