A Sheltered Harbour for Port Ellen?

The Port Ellen Harbour Association has a vision. They are already one of the most successful community organisations around - indeed they have already delivered on their promises to provide pontoons for visiting yachtsman and local pleasure craft. The pontoons have transformed life in and around Port Ellen during the summer months and generate hundreds of thousands of pounds of extra revenue for local businesses. Now the Association wants to take another giant step forward and create a completely sheltered harbour in Port Ellen by building a breakwater.

The Association sees the impending development of the ferry terminal in Port Ellen as an opportunity that must not be missed because at least 50% of the cost of building such a breakwater is in the transport to site and assembling of the heavy plant and contracting teams that would be required. The refurbishment of the ferry terminal will require the majority of these resources to be brought to site - representing a once in a lifetime opportunity. They argue that the benefits of creating a properly sheltered harbour would be immense for the community. Yachtsmen can currently only view Port Ellen as a transit stop because it is a marginal weather harbour. A breakwater would mean they would be able to safely base their yachts here all year round - which is a completely different prospect. The economic benefits of having yachts actually based in Port Ellen for local businesses such as ClearWater Marine and Stormcats plus local shops, hotels and restaurants would be colossal. Continue reading....A breakwater would allow far more cruise ships to schedule stops in Port Ellen Bay because they would be able to guarantee safe landing facilities for their, often elderly, and in many cases wheelchair bound, passengers. Cruise liners are big business - around 30,000 people visit Orkney every year on cruises, and the Islay distilleries represent a world-class attraction that can compete with anywhere.

The breakwater would also provide much needed protection for the shorefront houses in Port Ellen - particularly those of Frederick Crescent which are always subject to the threat of wave-based flooding. The breakwater would also provide much improved protection for the fishing fleet using the fixed quays as well as the floating pontoons. A sheltered harbour would be the catalyst for all kinds of activities for young people, not only the direct benefits of being able to set up boat based activities and sailing clubs, but also opportunities to develop public relations and business skills.

The Association is developing a positive and constructive relationship with both CMAL and its consultant partners Halcrow to map out the best way forward for the development of Port Ellen Harbour. Everyone concerned is keen to avoid the mistakes made at both Port Askaig and Bruichladdich where single issues were allowed to dominate the redevelopment proposals and the needs of the wider community were ignored - resulting in significant lost opportunities. The community in Port Ellen now has an opportunity to contribute its own vision for the future because this forthcoming harbour development is likely to determine the direction of travel for the village during the whole of the 21st century.

Cruise ship ‘The Black Prince’ in Port Ellen bay. Many more cruise ships would schedule visits to Port Ellen if safe, all-weather landing facilities were provided

This story was published with kind permission of the Ileach local newspaper.

Tag: port ellen harbour tourism

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