Pier works may limit new Islands’ ferry

The new infrastructure at the pier will not be completed until the Summer of 2020.
The new infrastructure at the pier will not be completed until the Summer of 2020.

The new ferry for Calmac’s Uig-Lochmaddy-Tarbert triangular route may have to operate ‘with some operational limitations’ at Lochmaddy Pier if development works are not completed before its planned deployment.

Last week the Comhairle gave the go ahead to a £16m plan to redevelop Lochmaddy ferry port to accommodate the additional demands of the bigger ferry, and work to strengthen the pier at Tarbert is also planned.

But it has emerged that the new infrastructure will not be completed at Lochmaddy until the Summer of 2020, with the new boat due to commence operations sometime after Spring 2020, and finance for the project will not be signed-off by the Scottish Government until late 2018, risking further delays.

Shipbuilders, Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd (FMEL) recently announced that the new ferry would be delayed until Spring 2020, and a further 6-8 weeks of trials and crew familiarisation is required before full deployment of the ferry on the route.

A spokesperson for the Comhairle, owners of Lochmaddy Pier, said: “The scope of the infrastructure works at Uig, Lochmaddy and Tarbert is subject to a funding decision by Scottish Government as part of its budget planning for 2019/20; the draft budget is being considered by Parliament in mid-December 2018.

“The current milestone for the completion of the infrastructure works at Lochmaddy is Summer 2020.”

The Comahirle’s statement concluded: “The new ferry will be able to berth and operate from the existing facilities albeit with some operational limitations depending on construction activity at that time.”