The development of a marina in Harris has received a boost with a £600,000 grant from the Scottish Government.
A successful application to the Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund has secured £600,000 towards the Isle of Harris Marina Hub, a £1.37 million development of pontoons in East Loch Tarbert.
Comprising two complementary sites, one in Scalpay’s North Harbour and the other in Tarbert, the marina project will have a total berthing capacity of 90 vessels — almost equivalent to the existing provision at Stornoway. In addition, those behind the development say it will ensures reliability, providing berthing in virtually all weathers regardless of wind direction, and will fill the gap in berthing facilities between Stornoway and Lochmaddy, thus completing the ‘string of pearls’ in the Western Isles that extends via Lochboisdale in South Uist to Castlebay in Barra.
Gordon Macdonald, chair of the Harris Marina Steering Group, said: “The project will bring significant economic benefits to the island. In addition to the income generated by visiting yachts and motor cruisers, quality pontoon facilities will provide opportunities for existing marine business enterprises in Harris to expand and for new ones to develop.”
The project has received strong support locally, with endorsements from the North Harris and West Harris community trusts and North and South Harris community councils. It has been particularly well received by local marine tour businesses Kilda Cruises and SeaHarris, who regard the provision of step-ashore facilities in Tarbert as vital in order for the area to benefit from the rapidly-growing marine tourism market and the development of the Hebrides as a premium sailing destination.
Isle of Harris Distillers Ltd have also expressed their support for the proposed marina, with a spokesman commenting: “We believe that the future prosperity of the island is largely dependent on the growth of sustainable, high-quality, high-value tourism. It is the combination of a variety of such offerings which will have the greatest effect. We would hope to work in close partnership with the marina, leveraging our growing world of connections to encourage people to sail to us and use the facilities.”
Fred Taylor, former owner of the island of Scalpay, added: “I see first-hand the increasing number of pleasure vessels that arrive in the Loch and know that they will be surprised when they find no adequate facilities in comparison to so many other destinations across the west coast of Scotland.”