OBAN town centre’s new transit berthing pontoons are officially in use after being opened ahead of schedule.
ONLY a few hours after the keys for the Esplanade pontoon were handed over to Argyll and Bute Council by the contractors, the much-anticipated marina was open for business.
Councillor Elaine Robertson, the council’s area chairwoman, praised officers for the swiftness in which the pontoons were opened.
Mrs Robertson said: ‘This is not the official opening. That will happen at the end of August. This was simply to get the message out that the pontoons are open and ready to be used.’
Argyll and Bute Council believe that Oban’s status as a ‘must visit’ location for sailors has increased significantly with the construc- tion of the £2.5 million transit berthing facility.
A spokesman said: ‘The project is designed to benefit the local and wider economy and is already bringing vessels and visitors to the town.
‘The Ocean Youth Trust was among the first pontoon customers and Councillor Elaine Robertson was on hand to welcome its charter vessel to the state-of-the art facility.’
The berths are being marketed under the name North Pier Pontoons and will, Mrs Robertson explained, be managed by the pier staff there.
A code will be given to sailors who have paid the berthing fees of £12 per day (between 11am and 4pm) and for up to three nights at £3 per metre, including vat.
Councillor Aileen Morton, leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said: ‘This is a landmark day for Oban and for the whole West Coast tourism industry. The substantial investment in these first class facilities will attract new people and businesses and bring economic benefits to the town and the surrounding area for years to come.
‘I am so pleased to say that we are now able to welcome kayakers, yachters, cruise ships and tour operators.
‘The finger-berth pontoons and concrete floating breakwater are now capable of providing excellent flexible short-stay capacity and make it easier for marine visitors to come to Oban.
‘As well as council funding, this project benefited from financial support from the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Our thanks go to all who helped make it possible. This is all about investing for prosperity.’
Councillor Robertson added: ‘This project will complement Oban’s existing marine facilities and will bring new customers for other local facilities, industries and retailers.
‘It had been expected that the pontoons would open later in the summer, but thanks to the hard work of contractors GSS of Rosneath, North West Marine of Mull and Oban, D&K Lafferty of Oban, and Gaelforce, the facility was open for business in July.
‘This has been an outstanding demonstration of the quality of our home-based contractors in Argyll.
‘This is a great step forward for the long-term economic prosperity of Oban.’
The facility, comprising 15 finger berths, three hammerheads and 12 concrete breakwaters, has been built according to the original plans. This season the facility will be operated by Argyll and Bute Council in partnership with BID4Oban.
Work on the associated maritime visitor facility, costing £1.6 million, is scheduled to be completed later this year. This facility will provide a harbour master’s office, toilets, showers, lockers and a changing area.
Concerns had previously been raised through social media on the ‘free use’ of the pontoons. A council spokesman said the berthing of a number of vessels over the past three weeks was ‘not authorised’ by the local authority.