Delight as £1.48M contract awarded for new Corpach marina

The site of the new Thomas Telford Corpach Marina. NO-F07-marina-site.jpg
The site of the new Thomas Telford Corpach Marina. Photograph: Andy McKenna. NO-F07-marina-site.jpg

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After years of planning, consultation, detailed design work and lease negotiations, a delighted Caol Regeneration Company (CRC) this week confirmed it has now awarded a  construction contract worth £1.48M for phase one of the new 40-berth Thomas Telford Corpach Marina.

This initial phase comprises construction of the public slipway and car park, and Barrhead-based George Leslie Ltd will begin work on site next month.

Leases were signed on Christmas Eve with the three landowners involved –
Lochiel Estates, Scottish Canals and Crown Estates Scotland – which means that CRC can begin to spend the £1,465,000 Regeneration Capital Grant awarded from the Scottish Government in March 2018, as well as £171,000 from the EU LEADER fund.

Thomas Telford Corpach Marina will be wholly owned by CRC and will provide a marina facility for the use of locals and visitors, a long awaited public slipway and a community coffee shop which is expected to become a popular attraction.

Situated at the entrance to the Caledonian Canal, marina users will enjoy outstanding views of Ben Nevis and Loch Linnhe.

Despite being the largest town in the Highlands and the Outdoor Capital of the UK, Fort William lacks a serviced year-round marina – this project fully meets that need and fills a crucial 100-mile gap between Inverness and
Oban.

The marina project  was instigated by the late Dr Su Sen, who procured funding from EU LEADER, HIE and Scottish Government on behalf of CRC.

When completed, Thomas Telford Corpach Marina will be Scotland’s latest marina development in line with Scottish Marine Tourism Strategy.

CRC chairman Donnie Corbett said it had been extremely challenging to get to the point where construction of the marina can actually begin.

‘With sustained commitment over the years by the directors of CRC, and the hard work of the marina project committee and project managers, I am
certain that Thomas Telford Corpach Marina will provide major social and economic benefits to the Caol, Corpach and wider Fort William community,’ he commented this week.

‘We are indebted to Highland Council, for financial support and for the enthusiasm of our local councillors and of council staff here and in Inverness.

‘Significant financial support has been provided over the years by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, without which we could not have achieved this milestone.

‘The SSE Sustainable Development Fund, too, has been an invaluable source of funding during the long and costly preparatory phase.

‘Other welcome contributions, in cash and kind, have come from donors such as Ferguson Transport and MOWI, as well as several regional landfill funds.

‘I want to express my thanks to all of those, as well as to members of the wider community who have given us their encouragement and steady support over the years.’

Andy McKenna, chairman of the marina project committee, added: ‘The marina car park, slipway and marina facilities building are fully funded, allowing us to make today’s announcement and crack on with the biggest chunk of the project.

‘However, we are now working to secure the balance of the money needed to complete the marina – just over £1million required to pay for the floating marina infrastructure which will be manufactured and installed by local
company Gael Force Marine in Corpach, creating immediate local economic benefit.

‘Highland Council has been allocated £1.2m from the 2018/19 surplus arising from Crown Estates Scotland trading receipts.

‘After meeting with Highland Council leader Councillor Margaret Davidson
and CEO Donna Manson on December 4, we are confident that this project is an excellent fit for this funding, focused as it is on delivering both community and economic benefits to Highland coastal communities.

‘We will therefore be formally submitting a request for a substantial contribution towards our floating infrastructure.

‘In addition, we presented our case to the board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise during their visit to Caol Community Centre in November; this was well received and we have been assured of their financial support in closing the final funding gap.

‘Our aim remains for the marina to open later this year, perfect timing to celebrate the 2020 Scottish Year of Coasts and Waters.’

Local MSP Kate Forbes, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy, said: ‘I am delighted to see how far the marina project has come, thanks to the grit and determination of a
handful of people.

‘The marina will transform the marine economy of Fort William. It is remarkable that Fort William and the surrounding villages don’t have access to a marina.

‘At a time when tourism is booming and Scotland is celebrating the Year of Coasts and Waters, it’s brilliant to see the contract finally awarded and the Corpach Marina coming one step closer.’

Councillor Denis Rixson (Caol and Mallaig) said: ‘We all hope that this exciting new marina project will transform the Corpach area – from Loch Linnhe, through the Canal, and up the Great Glen.

‘That would be a fitting reward for all those who have poured in countless hours of hard work.’

Councillor Alan Henderson (Caol and Mallaig) added: ‘As Highland Council representative on Caol Regeneration I am delighted that after all the false starts, this project has finally reached, not the conclusion, but the start of the contract.

‘Over the years I have been energised by the enthusiasm and drive and commitment of the volunteer steering group.

‘This development has the potential to develop Corpach Sea Port base from not just an industrial operation, but also a leisure and tourism one.’