The £10 million Lochboisdale development is being officially opened by Deputy First Minister John Swinney today (Saturday 5 September).
The major regeneration project being taken forward by community organisation Stòras Uibhist has created new marine and leisure facilities and provided access to land for community, residential and commercial development at Lochboisdale, South Uist.
Two causeways and two breakwaters have been completed as part of the project, a road along Rubha Bhuailt to Gasaigh Island, a new fishery pier, a slipway, pontoon berths and facilities for fishermen and leisure sailors.
Lochboisdale is a popular port of entry for visitors to the Hebrides, and a stunning location to enjoy recreational and sailing facilities. Around Lochboisdale you can cruise the Minch and inlets of the more sheltered east coast of South Uist as well as the more open west side.
The harbour also offers a commercial area providing opportunities for engineering, light industries and maritime services. The project, which could not have happened without community ownership, secured funding from a number of sources.
Leading funder Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) supported the project through detailed feasibility and design stages and contributed £5m to the construction phase. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has contributed £625k of grant funding and the project has also been supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Scottish Government and BIG Lottery.
Mr Swinney said: “The Lochboisdale port of entry will make a huge contribution to the economy of the Western Isles, helping tourism and other local industries to flourish and pursue the kind of inclusive growth which benefits the entire community.
“The recently published Marine Tourism Strategy identified a £360 million market for marine tourism and the new port will leave the island well-positioned to take full advantage of this opportunity.
“Opening the port today, I would like to thank those at Stòras Uibhist, HIE and others, who have worked hard to bring the project to this stage, generating such wide-reaching benefits for the people of South Uist and beyond.”
HIE Chief Executive Alex Paterson said: “Supporting our most fragile communities to grow stronger and more sustainable is a significant focus for HIE.
“We have worked with Stòras Uibhist for almost a decade now, from supporting the buyout of the estate in 2006 to the successful delivery of this incredibly ambitious project, so today is a genuine landmark.
“Our aim has been to enable this community to generate powerful social and economic impacts through the growth of population and business opportunities in South Uist, and it is wonderful to see the benefits of our investments now being realised.
“Lochboisdale now provides excellent facilities for a range of business opportunities, including serving the growing marine tourism industry, local fishing fleet and aquaculture, and these will help to underpin the growth of this community for future generations.
“It is also impressive that these works have been completed in a relatively short timeframe and delivered within budget.”
John MacMillan, Chairman of Lochboisdale Development Ltd, a subsidiary company of Stòras Uibhist, said: “We are delighted that this major development has been completed and is now open for business.
“It will provide the necessary infrastructure to grow marine leisure tourism in Lochboisdale and the Western Isles, as well as open up land for business development and community housing, building infrastructure for the fisheries and aquaculture industries and the marine tourism.
“This project is the first stage in delivering a long-term regeneration vision for Lochboisdale and the Uists and we look forward to working with our partners going forward to further enhance these excellent facilities.”
Huw Francis, Chief Executive of Stòras Uibhist added: “The development at Lochboisdale has been a long held ambition for the community.
“Construction of this ambitious project was managed by the Stòras Uibhist team and completion of these facilities demonstrates what can be achieved by a community which controls its own land, and has access to the resources necessary to develop the island and its economy.”
Stòras Uibhist expects to attract local businesses looking to expand and new commercial tenants to Lochboisdale, which will provide employment to drive an economic revival for the area.