Vatersay slipway renovations aim to safeguard marine and tourism activity

HIE's Joanna Peteranna at the Vatersay slipway.
HIE's Joanna Peteranna at the Vatersay slipway.

A project which aims to develop and diversify the fragile economy of Vatersay is well underway.

Vatersay Community Association is currently restoring access to the slipway by building a sea wall and reinstating the shore road which was lost due to erosion.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is assisting Vatersay Community Association by providing a grant of £16,000 towards the £143,000 project which is also being funded by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Crown Estates, EFF Axis 4 and Awards for All.

The old slipway is being renovated and once completed it will allow for future work on a landing and berthing place for up to seven fishing vessels based around the island.

The slipway was historically used as a loading point to the Bishop’s Isles from the South of Vatersay and the improvements will allow the movement of stock to offshore island grazings.

Many people in Vatersay are employed in the fishing industry and this project aims to protect and enhance employment opportunities for young people and for those involved in the landings of live shellfish.

The project will also provide opportunities for the development of tourism services such as wildlife tours and heritage visits to the island which has a population of around 100.

Joanna Peteranna, HIE’s Senior Development Manager, based in Uist, said: “Fishing provides employment opportunities to young people and this project encourages them to remain in the fragile area.

“In addition, the infrastructure will be in place to allow access to the sea which we hope will encourage the development of leisure and tourism business.”

Cllr Archie Campbell, Chair of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Sustainable Development Committee, added: “Hopefully this community led project is the first stage of safeguarding traditional industry activity in the area and provides long term opportunities for new development in marine and land based tourism.”

The slipway renovation is due to be completed in January 2014.