Council finds "workable solution" to reduce impact of vital upgrade works at Uig Harbour
A revised programme of works has been agreed for vital works to upgrade Uig Harbour following consultation with project partners and communities.
The planned outage has been reduced from 24 weeks to 14 weeks and will be split over two periods, helping to reduce disruption to communities during the works.
The first outage will commence on 16 January 2023 until 13 March 2023, and the second outage will commence on 30 October 2023 until 11 December 2023. These changes are being supported by direct investment of £6m from the Scottish Government.
The project is being led by Highland Council. Malcolm MacLeod, Executive Chief Officer of Infrastructure, Environment and Economy, said: “The first outage period will enable the installation of some of the permanent infrastructure as well as the installation of a temporary bridge to enable the ferry services to resume for the summer timetable next year. The new linkspan will then be installed during the second outage with completion over the Uig upgrades works now expected to be Spring 2024.
“We continue to work to minimise disruption during the works and, when complete, will provide improved marshalling and ferry terminal facilities as well as the ability to cater for large ferry vessels serving the route in the future.”
Highland Council Leader, Cllr Raymond Bremner, said: “We are pleased to have been able to find a workable solution that reduces the impact of the much-needed replacement berthing facilities and improvements at Uig Harbour. We will continue to work with our partners to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the harbour while the works are ongoing."
The community will be informed of further details of the construction works and traffic management arrangements through locally held liaison meetings over the next month and throughout the project via the Highland Council Project website.
Robbie Drummond, Managing Director of CalMac, said: “We recognise that the closure of Uig harbour by Highland Council will be disruptive to local communities, and I am very grateful for their patience while we finalised the required service changes. This has been an extremely complex operation, but we believe that we have provided the best available solution in order to maintain lifeline services.”
The Scottish Government's Minister for Transport, Jenny Gilruth, said: “It was very clear in my meetings with Western Isles stakeholders earlier this year that the original plans for the Uig outage were not acceptable to island communities. Having convened a number of resilience calls with islanders and stakeholders, I am pleased that we have been able to reach this resolution, which is supported by additional funding from the Scottish Government.
“I appreciate that any level of disruption is not welcome, but this project is vital to improving ferry services and the harbour experience in Uig in the longer term."
She added: "I would like to thank The Highland Council, CalMac, CMAL, Western Isles Council, Harris Development Ltd, Harris Transport Forum, local elected members and members of the Ferries Community Board for their co-operation in the series of meetings which have led to this outcome. I will continue to urge project partners to look at reducing the duration of the outages if possible.”
Planned changes to services during the Uig closure periods are:
- Lochmaddy – Ullapool (MV Hebrides)
· Daily return sailings between Lochmaddy – Ullapool
- Lochboisdale – Mallaig/Oban
· Daily return sailings between Lochboisdale – Mallaig (4 days per week)
· Daily return sailings between Lochboisdale – Oban (3 days per week)
- Tarbert – Uig service cancelled
· No vehicle service to/from Tarbert for the duration of closure periods.
- Amended Ullapool – Stornoway (MV Loch Seaforth)
· Sailing times moving forward by one hour to accommodate Ullapool/Lochmaddy sailings, i.e., comply with the 90-minute separation between sailings.
- Oban - Lochboisdale (MV Isle of Mull & MV Hebridean Isles)
· Offer daily return services when deployed to Lochboisdale (winter overhaul plans).
- Berneray – Leverburgh
· Increasing service levels on Sound of Harris during both closures to provide additional capacity.
CalMac continue seek second hand tonnage to potentially support vessel capacity during the outage.
As part of the £580m investment over five years until 2026, the Scottish Government continues to support the economic, social and cultural development of island and remote mainland communities, including the delivery of the Uig infrastructure project. The Scottish Government is investing a further £6m in this project to support the revised closure period in addition to its original £38m contribution.