More than 200 jobs will be created with what is being described in the industry as the “transformational” development of a new deep water terminal in Stornoway.
Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing has confirmed £49 million of investment from a number of partners to strengthen transport links and support a range of industries in the Outer Hebrides.
Work is due to start next summer on the project, one of the biggest undertaken in the islands and is part of Stornoway Port Authority’s (SPA’s) 20-year masterplan.
It includes a facility for berthing cruise ships up to 360 metres (1,180 feet) long, a new deep water berth to cater for larger cargo vessels and a freight ferry berth. There will also be berthing and unloading facilities for renewable energy components and development land for a range of uses, including industrial processes and decommissioning.
Mr Ewing said the development will support a range of diverse industries and economic activities, ranging from cruises, to energy, to aquaculture and ferries, which will be a benefit to the Western Isles.
“This transformational project, which will put Stornoway in pole position to take advantage of emerging technologies such as hydrogen, is the culmination of dedicated partnership working between local partners, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Scottish Government to create a development of real value to communities.
“This is a great example of the blue economy in action, as it is creating infrastructure in our islands which can benefit a range of marine industries and coastal communities, helping Scotland build back better from the pandemic and make the transition to net zero through the creation of a stronger, more resilient, sustainable economy.”
SPA chairman Murdo Murray said the investment is “tremendous news for Stornoway, the Outer Hebrides and Scotland”.
“We believe it will bring massive new revenue streams to the port, create new employment in the area for decades to come, and go a long way to helping Scotland reach its net zero carbon emissions target by 2045.”
HIE is providing a £10 million grant, while the council will provide a financing facility of £37.5m to the SPA. Cash reserves of £1.5m from SPA will make up the rest of the capital cost.
The Scottish Government is supporting the project through the Growth Accelerator mechanism which will release payments to SPA based on achievements, including cruise passenger numbers, gross vessel tonnage, number of people completing training programmes for jobs, and opening of the deep water berth by May 2023.
Comhairle leader Roddie Mackay said the deep water terminal can be a driver for a series of new activities, including a hydrogen-driven energy hub and a future base for renewable energy deployments west of the Hebrides.
“The project will create new marine-related opportunities, not only for Stornoway, but the whole of the Outer Hebrides. We believe this investment will make Stornoway one of the premier ports in the west of Scotland and will create significant new economic value for the overall Scottish economy.”
HIE chairman Alistair Dodds said the development will help attract more people and business to the islands, stimulate wider economic activity and strengthen community resilience.