Earlier in the week I mentioned some headlines from this weeks Ileach which was delayed due to technical problems. Today the PDF arrived and I found a one word headline: HALLELUJAH! Fact is that the new Islay Ferry will also sail to Port Ellen, if the CMAL proposal is approved. This is quite a relief for many people on Islay who believe that Port Ellen should be one of two Islay Ferry ports, not just for the current ferry but also for the new ferry which is currently being built in Poland. The proposed solution consists of a truncheon-shaped extension to the existing pier, designed by the egineers from CMAL.
CMAL present proposal to allow â€œMV Finlagganâ€ access to Port Ellen
Following are the main is the article as it was published in the Ileach newspaper:
- CalMac and CMAL re-confirm commitment to two ports of entry at public meeting in Ramsay Hall
- CMAL engineers propose truncheon-shaped extension to existing pier to allow access to new ferry.
- Proposal will comprise first stage in the phased redevelopment planned for the port
- Funding available comprises Â£2m from the Scottish Government with CMAL reserves to provide Â£1.6m. Contingency available to take total to approx Â£4.5m. If tenders come back higher than this figure then proposal would be threatened
- No detailed drawings yet completed, but survey results mean that CMAL engineers are confident that project can be delivered within budget.
- The aim is to start works at Port Ellen in autumn 2010. Port Ellen pier will be closed to ferry traffic for approx nine months from start date.
- Grain supplies and fishing operations should be unaffected during closure period.
- â€œNewâ€ pier will be long enough to accommodate grain boat and new ferry at the same time.
- Negotiations underway with Argyll and Bute Council to provide bus services Port Ellen/Port Askaig during period of closure
- CMAL remain committed to long-term development of Port Ellen including reclamation of land north of current terminal building, new car parking, freight marshalling and a new terminal building.
- Some reduction in reliability of services to Islay during closure period is to be expected - but that is fundamentally why redevelopment of Port Ellen is justified
- Breakwater to protect inner harbour proposed by Port Ellen Harbour Association to be an integral part of long- term development
- Kennacraig - no change to current â€œdo minimumâ€ proposal of simply shifting sunken barge to allow access for new ferry.
- Work to move barge to start in three weeks and to last one approx month. Ferry services unaffected during this time.
- Long term aspiration to build new facilities at and causeway access to Kennacraig unchanged.
- Harbour Revision Order for Â£18m redevelopment of Kennacraig already submitted. No guarantee that redevelopment of Kennacraig will not be ahead of major redevelopment of Port Ellen.
- Parlous state of public finances means that full redevelopment of Port Ellen and Kennacraig could be â€œmany yearsâ€ away.
- Alterations to Port Askaig linkspan necessary for â€œHealth and Safety reasonsâ€ prior to arrival of new ferry. Necessary work to be undertaken during summer 2010
We could all grow to love the â€œLovely Truncheonâ€
It might have been pier pressure, or possibly peer pressure. We will probably never know, and frankly it doesnâ€™t really matter now. For some reason, in March, Alex Salmond told Lord Robertson â€œMV Finlaggan... will serve Port Askaigâ€. On March 26th (after the last Ileach was printed), the Ileach and a number of other â€œstakeholdersâ€ on Islay received a letter from CMAL (or was it a press release?) which stated â€œMV Finlaggan will be accommodated at Kennacraig and will serve Port Askaig.â€ and inviting us to a meeting at the Ramsay Hall on Wednesday 7th April.
In the best tradition of Port Ellen, and despite the non-existent publicity, there must have been 60-70 folk who duly assembled, expecting little more than a reiteration of what we already knew. What we got was anything but. It would appear that the seven options put to the Scottish Ministers by the CMAL Business Plan commissioned from Halcrow do not represent the whole story. There is in fact another option. We will call it the Lovely Truncheon, and it seems to have been created, not by Halcrow, but in-house at CMAL. It does not seem to have any detailed drawings attached to it as yet, and it is not accurately costed in that there is no tender document (which you would not expect there to be), but enough is evidently known about the Lovely Truncheon to enable Guy Platten, the MD of CMAL, and Phil Preston, the MD of CalMac, to stand in front of a public meeting in Port Ellen and promise to do their utmost to deliver what is sure to be a very welcome proposal. To give us dates, a timetable of events, and a real available budget. If these guys can make this happen, then the MV Finlaggan is going to be coming to Port Ellen. Hallelujah....