IN A bid to provide a permanent and increased ice supply to users of Stornoway Harbour, the Stornoway Port Authority (SPA) anticipate sourcing funding for a new ice plant next month as consultants AB Associates undertake a project survey.
The Stornoway Harbour ice plant on Esplanade Quay broke down in September last year – and at 16 years old was assessed as being beyond economic repair.
Concerns were raised by Councillor Gordon Murray on behalf of the local fishing fleet as the ice is used to chill catches and keep prawns as fresh as possible before being landed for processing locally or export.
As a temporary measure, the Port Authority leased a small ice machine for use in December 2012. However, admitting that demand at times outweighs supply, SPA Chief Executive Jane Maciver is keen that plans for a new ice plant come to fruition.
“We have put a small ice machine in place, but it’s being fully utilised, we’re actually having trouble keeping up with demand,” she said.
“We’re look at all the options. A new ice facility is something that is vital to the local economy, to the fishermen and our other customers, we know that.”
Indicating that European Fisheries Funding may still be available for the purchase of a new ice plant, Ms Maciver continued: “Our consultants work was supposed to start at the beginning of this year, but in a way I’m glad they’re later as they can now see a more normal usage at the harbour than in January.
“We expect their draft report to be with us mid-April and then we’ll be looking into funding for the new plant. We will also be consulting with the fishermen and our users about what’s going on and where the facility should go.”
On hearing that steps are being taken to secure a permanent ice facility at the town’s harbour, Stornoway councillor Gordon Murray commented: “I welcome movements towards setting up and establishing a new ice plant at Stornoway harbour.
“It’s clear that the Port Authority have the fishing community in mind and are focusing on the needs of their users. This is good news and I’m pleased to hear a new facility could be on the cards soon.”