Testing the water for deep water port aim

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Tests are starting this week to help pave the way for the creation of a deep-water port at Stornoway, which will bring major economic benefits to the town.

The test holes in the seabed will determine the depth of rock and the soft material above it, providing the information to determine the design and construction of a facility that will help stimulate growth in a number of vital sectors.

A deep-water port is a crucial part of Stornoway Port Authority’s ambitious 20-year masterplan and the exploratory work represents a key milestone in its commitment to the development.

The facility will help accelerate growth in the cruise business, by providing a berth for larger ships, provide improved berthing and servicing for oil and renewables projects as well as a new linkspan/freight ferry berth.

It will also provide bulk cargo handling and storage facilities, and enable the relocation of oil terminal and storage tanks out of the centre of Stornoway.

It is estimated the cruise sector alone could generate significant additional income by creating berthing facilities for larger vessels that cannot currently berth alongside.

To prepare for construction, and reduce risk by identifying the ground conditions early in the project development, the SPA has awarded the underwater investigation contract to Northern Irish company Causeway Geotech Ltd.

A series of 24 geotechnical boreholes will be drilled at Glumaig Bay and, whilst the equipment is onsite, will also drill seven at Newton Basin. These will be 150mm in diameter and 10-30 metres deep to gain information from sediment and rock for analysis.

The information will be used to identify the depths, materials and locations to be dredged, as well as data required to design the reclamation and berthing structures adjacent to Arnish and the marina at Newton basin. The contract is expected to run for seven weeks, after which the boreholes will be sealed.

SPA chief executive Alex MacLeod said: “The award of this contract is the first step on the road to delivering our master plan and demonstrates our commitment to its implementation. We are delighted that work is now getting under way and we aim to press ahead so that Stornoway, its residents and our partners can enjoy the economic rewards from this development as quickly as possible.”

Facilities at the deep-water port include:

A RoRo terminal to provide back-up to the existing linkspan on Pier 3; An extensive industrial base for planned onshore wind projects; A cruise berth for vessels up to 330 metres in length, bus marshalling area for passengers and access into Lews Castle grounds via a new footbridge; Space for relocating the oil terminal and storage tanks away from town; Bulk cargo handling and storage, warehousing.