Creating the next gem in ‘string of pearls’

editorial image

The newest marina development in the Isles has taken a significant step forward this week following a funding boost to the tune of £600,000.

Harris Development Limited announced that their bid to the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund had been successful.

The £1.37m project is to create pontoons in Harris comprising of two complementary sites, one in Scalpay’s North Harbour and the other in Tarbert, which will have a total berthing capacity of 90 vessels, almost equivalent to existing provision at Stornoway.

It is believed the development of twin facilities in East Loch Tarbert ensures reliable, available berthing in virtually all weathers regardless of wind direction and will fill the gap in berthing facilities between Stornoway and Lochmaddy in North Uist and complete the ‘string of pearls’ in marinas across the region.

Harris Marina Steering Group’s chairman, Gordon Macdonald, remarked: “The project will bring significant economic benefits to the island.

“In addition to the income generated by visiting yachts and motor cruisers, quality pontoon facilities will provide opportunities for existing marine business enterprises in Harris to expand and for new ones to develop.”

There is still a funding gap to be filled but the project is in a much stronger position and the £600,000 grant, along with £100,000 from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, takes the initiative over the halfway line to fruition.

The project has received strong support locally with endorsements from the North Harris and West Harris community trusts and North and South Harris community councils.

It has been particularly well received by local marine tour businesses Kilda Cruises and SeaHarris who regard the provision of step-ashore facilities in Tarbert as vital in order for Harris to benefit from the rapidly growing marine tourism market and the development of the Hebrides as a premium sailing destination.

Harris Tweed Isle of Harris emphasises the attraction for visiting cruise ships: “If Tarbert had a marina many more visitors from yachts and cruise ships would be able to access the island.

“The cruise ships that cannot access Stornoway would have the option of anchoring in East Loch Tarbert and stepping safely ashore at Tarbert.”

Fred Taylor, former owner of the island of Scalpay summed up the present situation: “I see first-hand the increasing number of pleasure vessels that arrive in the Loch and know that they will be surprised when they find no adequate facilities in comparison to so many other destinations across the west coast of Scotland.”

Pictured are the plans for the berths in Tarbert and Scalpay.