Plans progress for Oban Bay to become a trust port

(C) ShutterstockOban harbour

Work is well under way to create a single harbour authority to control all of the waters in Oban Bay, according to the group behind the plans. The operation of the busy bay would be run as a trust port on behalf of the community, with the community reaping the benefits. At present three different pier owners control their own areas at the piers, including Argyll and Bute Council at the North Pier, CMAL at the ferry pier and Northern Lighthouse Board at its pier.

It is agreed be all stakeholders that it would be safer to have a single authority in control. Oban Harbour Community Development Association (OHCDA) held a public meeting this week which was attended by around 60 people representing a wide range of marine interests. These ranged from ferries to cruise ships, leisure sailors, fisheries and aquaculture, kayakers and divers.

Local businesses were also represented alongside Argyll and Bute Council, Oban Community Council and Caledonian Marine Assets Ltd. Tony Bennett, chairman of the stakeholder group on the Oban Bay Management Group, outlined progress made in the work towards establishing a new harbour authority. He emphasised that, once established, the beneficiaries would be Oban and its surrounding area.

Discussions with the council on future arrangements are progressing well, and legal support would soon be required to draw up agreements relating to future operations. OCHDA is meeting Transport Scotland this week to discuss the future arrangements, including the boundaries of the new Harbour Authority. The drafting of the Harbour Order, which will follow on from these meetings and incorporate the results of the discussions with Argyll and Bute Council, CMAL and CalMac, the Northern Lighthouse Board, other water users and the wider community, will take place during the late spring and early summer.

The next phase is to continue the momentum and acquire the funds needed to pay for the specialist legal services that will be necessary to present a draft harbour order in the summer. The association has secured the services of Burness Paull, one of the UK's leading specialists in the development of Harbours. Senior Partner, Chris Mackay said: "We're very excited to be involved in this development and look forward to helping the community of Oban establish a new Harbour Authority to guide the safe development of this beautiful bay."

Chairman of OCHDA, John MacAlister,  said: "This is great news and we can now get on with the next phase of our work. As well as the legal tasks ahead of us we now urgently need to raise our profile, increase our membership and raise the funds needed to bring the development about."

Work gets underway

Work to repair Colonsay's ferry pier gets under way on Monday - but sailings to the island will not be disrupted. Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) has awarded the GBP1,029,711 contract to fix the concrete pier and timber fenders to a Houston-based firm.

Three tenders were received for the work, according to the Public Contracts Scotland website. A spokeswoman for CMAL said: "We carry out regular inspections of all of our harbours across the network, and during a recent routine inspection of Colonsay pier we detected that the timber and concrete sections would benefit from being replaced. "We have appointed NG Builders Ltd to carry out timber and concrete repair works, and the 12 week programme of work will commence on Monday February 10, weather permitting, and will not disrupt passenger sailings.

This project is part of CMAL's ongoing harbour maintenance programme to provide safe and efficient lifeline ferry services to communities around Scotland."

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