Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) is progressing detailed plans for significant investment and upgrade at Port Ellen Ferry Terminal.

Transport Scotland recently approved the findings of a strategic planning study which identified space constraints at the terminal, including the vehicle marshalling area and terminal building, as well as opportunities to improve port operations and passenger access to and from vessels.  CMAL developed a range of high-level options to address the issues.

The ‘Port Ellen Terminal Development’ project has now been established to progress plans to increase the vehicle marshalling area, increase staff and visitor parking, improve port operations for commercial use, improve passenger access to vessels, and explore the location and size of an area for a proposed new terminal building.

CMAL has appointed engineering consultancy Mott MacDonald to work alongside its in-house civil engineers to develop costs, assess a range of solutions, and recommend a preferred option.

Engineers will conduct topographical, bathymetric, geophysical and wave monitoring surveys to inform the next-level business case.  Timing for survey work has yet to be agreed, but it is likely to begin within the next two months.

A project reference group has been appointed to represent the views of the community, including ferry users, marina users, the fishing community and commercial users.  The first reference group meeting was held on Wednesday 1 December 2021.  Engagement with the wider community, through virtual or in-person events and meetings (depending on COVID-19 guidance), is scheduled for spring 2022.

Paul Colenso, senior civil engineer at CMAL, said:

“We are still in the early, but critical, planning stages of this project.  We have identified the need for investment in the infrastructure at Port Ellen to strengthen the resilience of the harbour to support ferry services and other port activities.  Our proposals will also enhance the ferry passenger and harbour user experience with improved facilities and access.

“Survey work will begin within the next couple of months.  This won’t impact ferry services, but harbours users may see engineers in high vis on-site for a number of weeks.  We’re planning to undertake comprehensive consultation so all interested parties can engage with the project, and we will be able to share more details on this early next year.”

The Port Ellen Terminal Development project is one of three CMAL projects planned for Port Ellen.  The other two projects will deliver improvements to traffic management arrangements, scheduled to get underway in 2022, and upgrade the pier infrastructure in preparation for the arrival of two new vessels.  A tender process to appoint a shipyard to build the vessels is currently ongoing.  All three projects are the result of significant planning and feasibility studies by CMAL, working in partnership with Transport Scotland and CalMac, as well as local stakeholders.

CMAL has a significant plan of vessel and harbour investment underway, backed by a £580 million commitment from the Scottish Government for an initial five-year period from 2021 to 2026.  Plans will deliver 21 new vessels for the fleet and multi-million-pound upgrade of harbour infrastructure over the next 10 years.  Further multi-million-pound investment will be needed to fund plans from 2026 onwards.

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