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Significant progress has been made on plans to develop Staffin harbour.
A community-led project, the new extended harbour will be the biggest infrastructure project to be built on the Taobh Sear (east side) and once complete will support key industries including fishing, aquaculture and marine tourism while creating opportunities for start-up businesses.
Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston, the shadow minister for business, trade, tourism and enterprise at the Scottish Parliament, visited the site on Thursday May 12.
He met harbour project manager Malcolm Henry, Staffin Community Trust (SCT) director Calum MacDonald, SCT’s development officer Hugh Ross, and Staffin Campsite’s Ally Young, who are all members of the harbour steering group.
Mr Halcro Johnston said he was aware of the significant changes facing island communities as he was brought up in Orkney and recognised how supporting existing jobs and creating new employment opportunities were crucial in sustaining rural areas like Staffin.
Welcoming the project, which will improve accessibility for boats to berth at the harbour all year round, the Highlands and Islands MSP said: ‘This is an important project – driven forward by the local community – which seeks to create new economic activity by drawing on the natural strengths and resources of the area.
‘Initiatives like this, which strengthen the local infrastructure, point towards a better and more sustainable future for rural areas like Staffin by giving businesses the confidence to invest.
‘That investment can then create new jobs and support other local service providers, creating a virtuous circle of investment which drives further growth.
‘My congratulations go to the team for the progress that they have made already. I am now working with colleagues to see where our support can help this project develop further.’
The mile-long harbour road was delivered by contractors Eyre Plant Hire, and work to provide electricity and water services to the harbour is also progressing.
SCT has been granted all the planning permissions required for the enabling works and it is anticipated that a full marine licence will be approved imminently by Marine Scotland.
The trust has also secured more than £2million from the Scottish Government, including the Fisheries Harbours Assistance grant, and is now investigating other sources of capital support.
The Staffin Harbour is included in the local authority’s Skye and Raasay Future (SARF) Plan of key infrastructure projects.
Highland Council owns the current slipway but has agreed to sell it to SCT so the area can be developed into a modern harbour owned by the community.