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The Action for Arnish campaign group has welcomed an assurance from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) that it has a ‘shared objective’ for the future of the Isle of Lewis fabrication yard.
This follows urgent concerns raised on the island about possible implications of the administration process involving BiFab which also controls yards at Burntisland and Methil in Fife. BiFab’s assets include a lease of the Arnish yard from HIE.
Following a meeting that also involved Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Stornoway Trust, HIE has expressed willingness to participate in an Arnish working group to take forward shared objectives for the yard.
The three island-based organisations had formed a united front to highlight concerns about the risk of Arnish being caught up in any deal agreed by the BiFab administrators which might not be in the island yard’s best interests.
Following the meeting, Alistair Dodds, chairman of HIE said it had been helpful to hear directly from the Action for Arnish Group, Stornoway Trust and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar about their ambitions for the future of Arnish.
‘We support the shared objective to find the best possible outcome for Arnish from the BiFab administration and welcome the proposal to form the Arnish working group to facilitate this process,’ added Mr Dodds.
Iain MacLeod, chairman of Action for Arnish, said: ‘It was quite an encouraging discussion insofar as HIE clearly understands the issue at stake – which is to prevent Arnish being caught up in a deal with the BiFab administrators which is not in the yard’s best interests when standalone alternatives might be available.
‘We appreciate that HIE cannot tie itself in advance to any one preferred outcome but it is important that its voice is heard and we are more than willing to promote the case for Arnish through a working group that HIE is involved in.’
Councillor Roddie MacKay, leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: ‘This was a useful meeting that helped to define a shared agenda around Arnish for the next period.
‘We will now move forward collectively to develop a shared document around what we believe success at Arnish looks like and what we believe would be the most appropriate outcome from the administration process for both Arnish and the wider economy of the Outer Hebrides.’