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Plans to open a new community-run marina in Corpach in the summer are on track.
The first phases of Thomas Telford Corpach Marina, which is owned by Caol Regeneration Company and run as a community enterprise, are on schedule to open this summer.
Sheltered from south westerly winds, when complete the marina will provide a West Coast sanctuary for visitors, with arguably one of the best views of the Caledonian Canal and Ben Nevis.
It will be the only marina of comparable scale and quality in the 100 sea miles between Inverness and Oban.
Phase one – civil engineering works, public slipway and dredging – was finished in December.
The second stage – construction of the marina building and café by local company GCF Joiners and Contractors – is going well and is due to be finished early this summer.
The new building will be fitted with the latest state-of-the-art equipment and technology and onshore services.
Phenomenal support from local organisations, schools, West Highland College UHI and councillors has seen the project get to this point, overcoming many hurdles on the way.
The project has received £2.3million from organisations including Scottish
Government, Highland Council, Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the EU Leader fund and SSE’s Sustainable Communities Fund.
The third and final phase of the project will see the construction of breakwaters, pontoons and linkspans and this is currently in preferred bidder status with Highland firm Gael Force Marine.
A further £1.2m is required to complete this phase and discussions are ongoing with Highland Council Coastal Communities Fund, HIE, Crown Estate Scotland, the Scottish Government’s Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund and Scottish Government’s proposed Tourism Recovery package.
When complete, the project will deliver a high quality, sheltered and sustainable all-year round marina at the western gateway to the Caledonian Canal, including 40 yacht berths, small boat berths, waste disposal, laundry, toilets, showers, a public slipway, 40 car and trailer parking spaces and a café/shop/visitor centre.
It is aimed at stimulating regeneration in Caol and Corpach, neighbouring Fort William and the wider Lochaber area by delivering significant economic and social benefits.
The project will encourage healthy lifestyles, with easy access to the water, and encourage tourists to come and enjoy the incredible sights and hospitality the area has to offer.
With Covid-19 recovery key, the project is capable of quickly generating vital economic benefits.
Thomas Telford Corpach Marina chairman Andy McKenna said he was delighted to see the car park and public slipway in place and the fabulous marina building nearing completion.
‘With a final push to get funding to construct the breakwater and berthing, we can realise this long-standing project and play our part in re-energising the local economy after Covid,’ he added.
Councillor Allan Henderson said: ‘While exactly a year ago, no-one had heard of Covid or a Covid Recovery Plan, this project is an excellent antidote. The combined elements of regeneration and recreation are exactly what is needed to ease out of the pandemic.
‘With the added benefits of sea access and employment, this shore base and café has the potential to become popular with walkers as well as sailors. This is all thanks to an extremely dedicated group of volunteers seeking the best facilities for the community.’