A West Skye community organisation has taken a significant step forward in a major harbour development after securing a licence to install a new pontoon and moorings.
The Glendale Trust Meanish Pier Project has also clinched a key funding grant to help it value land and foreshore it wants to purchase.
Marine Scotland has approved two Marine Licenses permitting the installation of a new pontoon and five deep water moorings in Loch Pooltiel.
It comes six years after the Trust purchased the Glendale Pier Slip and surrounding area at Meanish from Highland Council and developed plans to meet the needs of the community and local users.
The pontoon and deep-water moorings will provide residents and visitors safe access to the sea at all times, with the potential to increase economic activity in Glendale. The moorings will be offered to visiting yachts and provide a welcome anchorage for visitors to the area from the sea.
A Scottish Land Fund award will be used to provide an independent valuation of two pieces of land nearby to that already in community ownership. This land includes the foreshore which is managed by Crown Estate Scotland. The Trust will no longer be subject to annual fees and will be able to manage its own marine assets if it can buy the foreshore.
Purchase of land which is currently in private ownership will allow the community to develop plans for improvements to the local environment as some stone ruins in the area have been used as popular wild toileting sites in recent years.
It is anticipated that a stage two SLF application will be lodged later this year once the independent valuation has been completed and agreements reached with the land owners.
Elgar Finlay, the Trust’s Project Officer, said: “It’s been fantastic to have been involved in this project since its inception back in 2011. As with almost all community-led projects it has taken a significant length of time with many ups and downs to reach this stage.
“The key to our success has been building excellent working relationships with multiple stakeholders including Highland Council, the Crown Estate Scotland, the Glendale Moorings Association, local landowners and Kames, a commercial aquaculture company. All have had a part to play and have shared the vision for Glendale. The Trust is reaching the stage where the project is beginning to deliver real community benefit and is testament to the commitment of all those involved, particularly the volunteer board of directors who give up so much of their time.
“Glendale is already benefiting from increased pier usage, improved landscaping is already in place, as well as the creation of two full-time fish farm operator jobs.
“A leasing arrangement with Kames, the fish farm operator, will see sustainable revenue raised from the project which could be used to benefit the wider area of Glendale. The brand new safe and welcoming stop off point for sailing visitors to the area is a real bonus and may well encourage further marine-based activity in Glendale.”
Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes said: “A £10 million-strong Land Fund is available for all communities to apply and I am absolutely delighted that Glendale’s successful application is putting land back in the hands of communities.”