Work has begun to revamp Lochmaddy Harbour following Crown Estate investment

Work to improve and expand North Uist’s marine tourism facilities has started this week following a £380,000 investment from The Crown Estate.

The revamp of Lochmaddy harbour – which is a vital link in north west sailing routes – aims to benefit the local economy and attract visitors by increasing moorings and capacity for cruise liners.

The work includes construction of pontoons with 26 berths and floating walkways, lighting and electricity, plus a car and bus park. It is being carried out by Gael Force Engineering and local contractors Mcinnes Bros Ltd and the facilities are scheduled to be fully operational in May.

Comann na Mara, which is responsible for the project, was the first organisation in the UK to secure a Local Management Agreement (LMAs). The Crown Estate introduced LMAs in 2012 to help local organisations directly manage areas of seabed and foreshore by developing projects that provide economic, social or environmental benefits for the community.

Putting the Western Isles ‘firmly on the sailing map’

Angus Macaulay, chairman of Comman na Mara said: ‘After months of planning and preparation, work starting on site is a really exciting milestone – and the support from The Crown Estate has been critical in getting this project up and running.

‘These new facilities will benefit the local economy by taking advantage of the huge and growing opportunities in marine tourism, ensuring that the Western Isles is firmly on the map for sailing.’

Alan Laidlaw, The Crown Estate’s rural and coastal manager in Scotland, said: ‘This is exactly the sort of project which Local Management Agreements are designed to support.

‘It will generate local economic benefits, provide a really valuable facility for the community and strengthen the wider north west sailing network.’

He added: ‘The progress at Lochmaddy indicates the success of the LMA model and we are keen to roll them out in Scotland and the UK.’

Other LMAs include a Portree harbour project to expand capacity for cruise ships and the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust’s plans for a walkway, pontoons and more moorings at Ardminish Bay. The Gigha project has a £271,000 grant from the Coastal Communities Fund, a UK Government initiative that supports economic development project.

At Lochmaddy, it is anticipated that the first year of operation will see 357 visiting boat nights and seven cruise liner visits. The income generated will be used for further pontoons and other facilities, as well as community events.

Pictures: Loch Maddy Bay ©Island News and Advertiser; Angus Macauley and Alison Nimmo, of The Crown Estate, when the LMA was initially signed up.