TOBERMORY made history at the weekend when the village took over responsibility for running its own harbour.
TOBERMORY was celebrating last Friday after its harbour association was granted an order to become the authority within Tobermory Bay.
The order extends from MacBrayne’s Pier on one side of the bay to Aros Pier on the opposite side. The statutory powers to operate Tobermory Harbour were announced by minister for transport and the islands, Humza Yousaf, MSP, during a visit to the island.
The Harbour Empowerment Order (HEO) gives Tobermory Harbour Association the legal and regulatory framework to manage the bay and assets on behalf of residents and businesses on Mull, as well as other stakeholders.
Mr Yousaf said: ‘By granting this Harbour Empowerment Order, we have conferred statutory harbour authority status on the Tobermory Harbour Association.
‘It is best placed to make the important decisions about the future of the harbour.
‘This formal granting of powers will allow it to manage the harbour more effectively and progress a long-term vision for the facility that is in the best interests of the residents of Mull and harbour users.
‘The Scottish Government is committed to empowering our island communities and this is a great example of providing greater community control at a local level.
‘We recognise the importance of Mull and the strategic nature of the harbour here.’
Chairman of Tobermory Harbour Association Brian Swinbanks said: ‘This is a huge step forward for us and for everyone who lives and works around our iconic and very colourful harbour.
‘The new harbour authority will be a community-run and community-driven organisation. It will be dedicated to building facilities for all, benefiting local boat owners, fishermen and charter boats, our wonderful island of Mull and the wider west coast of Scotland.
‘The Harbour Empowerment Order also brings security to the next phase of our plans to create a welcoming and safe hub port at Tobermory, where visitors can enjoy our island hospitality as they prepare to sail to the more remote communities beyond Ardnamurchan.
‘There are so many people to thank for getting the THA to where we are now.
‘Special mention should be made of Lorna Spencer of CMAL, which has an interest in the pier but who stepped back and allowed the application for the authority to be made for the full area – including the MacBrayne Pier.
To Mr Yousaf, Mr Swinbanks said: ‘The government has helped us to create a port hub. We are the last safe harbour between the mainland and the Western Isles.’
Board members at THA outlined the progress made to date on the harbour.
John MacDonald raised concerns about a £4.5 million shortfall in funding for a new project that will further increase the capacity of the pontoons and the installation of a fuel tank.
Mr Yousaf, who was ‘incredibly impressed’ with the work of THA, said he would raise the matter with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and government officials.