Green light for Port Ellen ferry terminal upgrade

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Plans for a new terminal building at Port Ellen Ferry Terminal, with more parking and marshalling space, have been announced by CalMac’s owner, Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL).

Transport Scotland recently approved the findings of a study which identified space constraints at the busy Islay terminal, and CMAL developed a range of options to address the issues.

The Port Ellen Terminal Development project has now been established to increase the vehicle marshalling area, increase staff and visitor parking, improve port operations for commercial use, improve passenger access to vessels, and explore the location and size of an area for a proposed new terminal building.

CMAL has appointed engineering consultancy Mott MacDonald to work alongside its in-house civil engineers to develop costs, assess a range of solutions, and recommend a preferred option.

A project reference group has been appointed to represent the views of the community, including ferry users, marina users, the fishing community and commercial users. The first reference group meeting was held on Wednesday December 1. Engagement with the wider community, through virtual or in-person events and meetings (depending on COVID-19 guidance), is scheduled for spring 2022.

Paul Colenso, senior civil engineer at CMAL, said: ‘We are still in the early, but critical, planning stages of this project. We have identified the need for investment in the infrastructure at Port Ellen to strengthen the resilience of the harbour to support ferry services and other port activities. Our proposals will also enhance the ferry passenger and harbour user experience with improved facilities and access.

‘Survey work will begin within the next couple of months. This won’t impact ferry services, but harbours users may see engineers in high vis on-site for a number of weeks. We’re planning to undertake comprehensive consultation so all interested parties can engage with the project, and we will be able to share more details on this early next year.’

The Port Ellen Terminal Development project is one of three CMAL projects planned for Port Ellen. The other two projects will deliver improvements to traffic management arrangements, scheduled to get underway in 2022, and upgrade the pier infrastructure in preparation for the arrival of two new vessels. A tender process to appoint a shipyard to build the vessels is currently ongoing.

CMAL has a significant plan of vessel and harbour investment under way, backed by a £580 million commitment from the Scottish Government for an initial five-year period from 2021 to 2026. Plans will deliver 21 new vessels for the fleet and multi-million-pound upgrade of harbour infrastructure over the next 10 years. Further multi-million-pound investment will be needed to fund plans from 2026 onwards.