‘Promising progress’ on Oban Community Harbour

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The people of Oban were updated on the future of Oban Bay at a public meeting last Tuesday.

The well-attended event was held in the Argyllshire Gathering Halls and give people a chance to find out more about plans for the bay to be run as a community harbour trust port.

It was organised by  Oban Harbour Community Development Association (OCHDA).

The audience heard from the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) that the impact of recent changes to the buoyage and that there appeared to be a significant reduction in the number of incidents.

At the meeting, Tony Bennett, chairman of Oban Stakeholder Group, updated the room on what progress has been made.

Work undertaken in the past year consisted of preparing the first draft of the harbour revision order, continuing to liaise with stakeholders and Oban Bay Management Group (OBMG), identify legal advisers, and engagement with Argyll and Bute Council.

The group is in talks with the council over the transfer of powers and assets within the bay.

However, he highlighted a number of challenges, which would include time, support from the full council, funding and resources.

The most immediate challenge was time, with the Oban Bay Management Group having set a deadline of March to show progress, otherwise it would review the situation.

A representative from Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) put the group’s mind at ease though, saying: ‘I am new to this group, but from our perspective, we are supportive. There was a deadline set, but not just by CMAL, but the whole management group.

‘Certainly, progress is looking promising. We want to ensure this happens in general for the safety of Oban.’

A member of the public responded: ‘That is reassuring to hear.’

The next challenge will be finding the funds to pay for a specialist to write a harbour order draft.

OCHDA have announced that they have successfully secured the services of Burness Paull to help them with this work, as well as helping to draft legal agreements with the council and preparing documents for the Scottish Government.

Chairman of OCHDA John MacAlister welcomed the partnership. He 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.’

Information about OCHDA is available at www.obanharbour.scot under Trust Port.