The public will have a chance to help shape plans for major developments at Stornoway Harbour that will bring significant benefits to the town.
Public exhibitions will be held as part of a continuing consultation process on ambitious proposals that include a deep water port and new marina as part of Stornoway Port Authority’s 20-year Master Plan.
The Port Authority’s annual meeting will also include a presentation on the projects and there will be opportunities to comment on each project at all three events.
Feedback from the exhibitions and public meeting will be considered before formal applications are made for planning permission, marine licences and a Harbour Revision Order which are needed before the projects can proceed.
Alex Macleod, the Authority’s Chief Executive, said: “These meetings are important parts of the whole process. They will give us the chance to present the proposals and get responses from the community.
“The planned developments will provide huge economic benefits for the whole island, and we want to move forward with the community fully informed about our plans, explaining why the developments are necessary and how they will bring new economic opportunities.
“The exhibitions and public meeting will update stakeholders on the progress of these proposals, but they are also a chance for us to listen so that we get this right.”
An exhibition on Tuesday 24 April, between 10am-6pm at Stornoway Town Hall will set out the proposals and the methods being used by the Port Authority to assess the environmental impact of the projects.
At a second exhibition, on Monday 4 June between 10am-6pm at the Town Hall, the Authority will explain how the proposals have evolved since the first consultation event and provide information about the environmental impact assessments.
There will also be a presentation about the Newton Marina and deep water port projects, and an opportunity to make comments, at the Port Authority’s annual public meeting at 7pm on 23 May at An Lanntair on Kenneth Street, Stornoway.
The deep-water port proposal is crucial to accelerate local growth in the burgeoning cruise business, by providing improved facilities for larger ships that cannot currently berth alongside.
Stornoway welcomed 43 cruise ships in 2017, but attracts relatively few large vessels, as those over 156 metres in length are unable to berth alongside, and passengers are brought ashore by small boat.
To maintain and grow the cruise market, Stornoway needs a facility for berthing large cruise ships.
It is believed this would attract an additional 35 to 40 vessels a year and increase passenger visits towards the levels experienced in Orkney and Shetland, creating a significant number of business opportunities throughout the island.
• A new deep water berth with a 400m long quay, with associated storage and working areas • A berth and linkspan for a freight ferry • Development land for a range of uses, including industrial, storage and decommissioning activities • A new link road along the foreshore to Arnish fabrication yard
It will also provide additional capacity for a freight ferry, resilience to the current ferry service, create berthing for larger cargo ships, reducing transport costs and supporting future renewable energy projects.
Additional phases of deep water quays, hard standings and development areas, will be built over a 20-year period as the commercial environment dictates.
The masterplan also identified a shortage of yacht berths and amenities constraining potential growth in marine tourism.
A recent study estimated the value of sailing tourism in Scotland could increase by 18 per cent by 2023.
The Port Authority has a popular marina that was expanded in 2014 and can take 80 yachts.
However, the berths filled up soon after they were installed and there is now a shortage of space during the summer and winter seasons.
To maintain its share of the growing yachting sector, Stornoway needs more berths and other facilities.
It is estimated that an additional 100 berths could be filled in the short to medium term.
Newton Marina plan • A new marina with pontoons for leisure craft, a marina services building, public slipway and a boat lift structure • Hardstanding for boat storage • A new marine engineering workshop to allow boat building and repairs under cover • Creation of land for future development, including business/industrial, leisure and food and drink.