First boats use Oban’s new pon­toons

The Oban Times - - Front Page -

BUSI­NESS is bloom­ing on Oban’s Es­planade af­ter ho­tels and bars are re­port­ing a ‘bounce’ from pon­toons be­ing built ad­ja­cent to the North Pier.

The pon­toons are due to open of­fi­cially later this year, but last week­end at the risk of own­ers them­selves, the fa­cil­ity was al­ready in use by at least six ves­sels. The boats were all sit­ting on the break­wa­ter to the edge of the pon­toon fin­ger berths.

The plac­ing of the pon­toons off Oban’s Es­planade brings to the end years of wran­gling about the project and its worth to the town.

Con­cerns have been raised about the vi­a­bil­ity of the pon­toons while other mari­nas in the area have ob­jected to them.

An as­pi­ra­tion for some form of pon­toons around Oban’s Es­planade has been talked about for at least 60 years. As area com­mit­tee chair­man un­til May 2017, Coun­cil­lor Roddy McCuish was at the fore­front of de­liv­er­ing the project.

Derek Con­nery, chief ex­ec­u­tive of BID4Oban, said: ‘Ob­vi­ously there are the di­rect ben­e­fits of bring­ing peo­ple to town, as in­creased foot­fall leads to in­creased spend­ing.

‘I also think there will be some sig­nif­i­cant in­di­rect ben­e­fits. First, the im­proved aes­thetic of that part of the town and, se­condly, be­lieve it or not folks like to look at boats and, as such, vis­i­tors tend to grav­i­tate to the Rail­way Pier, so this will keep them mov­ing around the town. The im­prove­ment for vis­it­ing cruise ships is huge.’

One sea char­ter ves­sel owner told The Oban Times: ‘The pon­toons are good news for ev­ery­one. Fi­nally, Oban will have some­where for groups to meet in the town cen­tre and it will open up the en­tire West Coast for day trips out to the is­lands.

‘It has been al­most im­pos­si­ble for big­ger boats to find a reg­u­lar berth in Oban in the sum­mer. The pon­toons are go­ing to change all that.

‘This means more jobs for lo­cal peo­ple – as well as the knock-on ef­fect of more tourists com­ing to the town for trips.’

Con­trac­tor Gael Force has em­ployed Gare­loch Sup­port Ser­vices (GSS) and Oban-based North West Marine as its main sub-con­trac­tors.

There is no com­ple­tion date for the pon­toons, but at the week­end the busy port saw at least five yachts use the pon­toons while plea­sure cruiser the MV Bal­moral made her way onto the North Pier.

Ear­lier in the year it was hoped the pon­toons would be fin­ished by late sum­mer.

An Argyll and Bute Coun­cil spokesper­son said: ‘Work on de­vel­op­ing Oban’s tran­sit berthing fa­cil­ity is pro­gress­ing well. We are now work­ing on the util­ity con­nec­tions and nav­i­ga­tional set-up. This ini­tia­tive is all about sup­port­ing the lo­cal econ­omy and we wel­come the wide­spread lo­cal sup­port shown for it.’

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