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Seaplanes landing on Loch Linnhe at Fort William could be one result of work to improve and extend the town’s pontoons.
Dredging work has started to prepare the foreshore by the Fort William pontoons for the long-awaited extension.
This work is to make it deep enough for the four 20m floating concrete breakwaters that Fort William Marina and Shoreline Community Interest Company (FWMSCIC) obtained in January of last year from Cumbrae Watersports Centre on the Isle of Cumbrae which had gone into liquidation.
FWMSCIC company secretary Sarah Kennedy explained: ‘They were in storage at Corpach Harbour where James Kennedy spent hours cleaning the mussels and growth off them and were then transferred into a holding area in the water in December so they will be easy to transfer over to site.
‘We have had some significant challenges to overcome – numerous surveys, various marine licences, some of which had to be renewed due to the delay in the project, planning permission, foreshore owners permission, leases and agreements.
‘We started the process in 2016 thinking it would be quite straightforward. But we have found it to be anything but straightforward.
‘There have been many occasions when the volunteer directors have been so frustrated with the various barriers we’ve had to overcome and have often felt we just don’t want to carry on with the project.
‘We have picked each other up and been encouraged by the huge amount of support that we have been given along the way from various local companies and organisations which has made it all feel worthwhile.’
Local company MacPherson’s Welding is currently making the bridges, swivels and mini-pontoon to join the breakwaters together.
Once the dredging is finished, anchors – donated by MOWI – chains and breakwaters will be transferred over to the site by Fort William UTC Ltd and put into position.
Mrs Kennedy added: ‘We are very grateful for the funding we have secured for this project from Coastal Communities, Suez Communities Trust and Viridor Credits, without which we would never have been able to bring this project to fruition.
‘The extension will have a depth of -2.5m at low water springs which will enable yachts, small cruiser boats and other vessels to come alongside and spend a few nights in our wee town to explore the area and enjoy all that Fort William can offer.
‘We also hope to attract Loch Lomond Seaplanes to start landing in Loch Linnhe which will be quite a sight to see.
‘We will be arranging a grand opening of the Fort William Pontoons in due course but anticipate them to be completed by the end of June 2022.’
The dredging vessel, Coastbuster II, in Loch Linnhe this week. NO F22 dredging
The hope is that seaplanes, like the one pictured, could visit Loch Linnhe in future thanks to the extension work. Photograph: David Unsworth.
NO F22 seaplane