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A proposed community harbour authority area has been announced after input from a public consultation.
Oban Community Harbour Authority (OCHDA) says with the consultation’s results it has now moved on to the stage where the seaward limits of the new harbour boundary have been decided, ready to be put before Scottish ministers.
The consultation in November and December, which focused mainly on the two entrances to Kerrera Sound, got 51 responses from the commercial fishing community, ferry operators, the Northern Lighthouse Board and divers, as well as the leisure sector.
The proposed area will now be incorporated into a Harbour Order that is being prepared for submission to Scottish Ministers.
OCHDA this week made clear that the new Harbour Authority for Oban will take responsibility for managing vessel movements and other safety issues in the whole of the Kerrera Sound, between the south entrance and just outside the north entrance – the only exceptions will be the areas already controlled by Caledonian Marine Assets Limited (CMAL), the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) and Oban Marina.
OCHDA’s chairman John MacAlister said the organisation was ‘grateful for the interest shown’, with a good response from the consultation and said ‘it represents a significant step in the right direction’.
He added: ‘With the increase in vessel movements we have been seeing in recent years, it is more important than ever that the new Harbour Authority is established as soon as possible. A Trust Port will bring effective, safe management of the waters of the harbour and will allow the harbour to grow whilst continuing to serve as a transport hub for Argyll. This will, in turn, lead to wider benefits through re-investing any operating surplus in the harbour and wider community developments and activities.’
With the initial consultation now complete OCHDA is continuing with work to create the new Harbour Authority.
A formal expression of interest in seeking a transfer of some council assets in the harbour was submitted in December, and OCHDA is working with council officers to progress it.
Once in place the new Harbour Authority will have responsibility for oversight of vessel
movements and manage incidents such as spillages as well as having the power to
enforce speed limits which are currently voluntary.
Mr MacAlister said the Harbour Authority is not being established to restrict traditional water-based activities, leisure or commercial, but to ensure that all water users can enjoy the waters of Oban Harbour safely and to promote it as a welcoming safe place to visit.
He added: ‘We want to ensure that all harbour users and the wider community of Oban have the opportunity to enjoy the facilities and opportunities of Oban Harbour safely.’
OCHDA is free to join and welcomes new members interested in the harbour
To find out more and to read the full report on the public consultation go to www.ochda.scot