Work began today (Friday) on a £12 million ferry terminal and overnight ferry berth at Churchton Bay, Raasay, which serves the ferry route operated by Caledonian MacBrayne between Sconser, Skye, and the island of Raasay.
More than 50 islanders, including the island primary school’s 16 pupils, and guests gathered at the site of the new facility to watch Councillor John Laing, Chairman of The Highland Council’s Transport Environmental and Community Services Committee, cut the first turf. He was assisted by the school’s two Primary 7 pupils, Alexis Gillies and Robert Gillies (no relation).
Councillor Laing is delighted that the lifeline link between Skye and Raasay is being secured with such a major investment.
He said: “This contract marks another huge commitment by the Council to the rural West Highlands and closely follows the Small Isles ferry and piers’ project. It is great news for Raasay.”
The new terminal is two kilometres from the existing terminal at Suisnish, which was constructed at the beginning of the 20th century for the transportation of iron ore from Raasay. Work at Churchton is likely to be completed by the early summer of 2009. Until then, the ferry service will continue between Sconser and Suisnish.
Suisnish pier is in a very poor state of repair suffering from both corrosion of the precast concrete sections and accelerated low water corrosion of the sheet piles and does not provide the shelter that a modern day roll on/roll off ferry service requires. The pier is in such a poor state that contingency measures have been put in place to maintain the ferry service in case of collapse.
The Highland Council investigated a number of locations for the ferry terminal on Raasay and Churchton Bay was selected as offering the most natural shelter and allows the most effective, safe and economic terminal to be built.
Churchton Bay is overlooked by Raasay House and is an environmentally sensitive site. A Public Inquiry into the proposals for the terminal in Churchton Bay was held on Skye in 2005. The result of the inquiry endorsed the selection of Churchton Bay for the terminal location.
Tenders were invited and the Contractor Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Ltd was awarded the construction contract.
The scheme has been designed by the specialist consultant Arch Henderson, with the scheme being project managed and supervised by The Highland Council’s Project Design Unit.
The terminal is principally to be constructed using in-situ concrete and pre-cast concrete ‘lego’ blocks made at Kishorn, Wester Ross.