Argyll and Bute Council and the Gigha community have together agreed a date for a weekend closure of Tayinloan Pier.
This will directly affect the ferry service to Gigha, which will be unable to sail from Tayinloan as a result. There is not expected to be any impact to local fishermen.
The closure is to allow work to take place as part of a £2.3m programme of improvement at the pier, which is the mainland end of the Gigha ferry route.
Weather permitting, the facility will be closed from the last sailing on Friday, January 27 2012 through to the first sailing from Gigha on Monday, January 30 2012.
The following weekend has been earmarked as a back up in case the weather forecast for the first weekend suggests it will not be suitable for the work to be carried out.
Final confirmation of the closure will be made five days beforehand.
Argyll and Bute’s spokesperson for rural and island affairs, housing and Gaelic, Councillor Robin Currie, said the closure had been a decision made in partnership with the community.
“Earlier this month, we met with the Island Trust and the local community council to discuss this issue. At that time, the last weekend in January was identified as the most suitable for a closure, with the following one as a back up,” he said.
“We have done everything we can to minimise the inconvenience to those who rely on this ferry, and I am grateful to the community for their co-operation during these works. The result will be the smoother operation of what is a lifeline ferry service for the people of Gigha, and a slipway which is able to accommodate wider vessels in future if required.”
During the closure, Calmac will operate a twice-daily service from Kennacraig, weather permitting. The ferries will leave Gigha at 0830 and 1230, and depart from Kennacraig at 1015 and 1415.
The service will be booked through Calmac’s Kennacraig office (01880 730253), and will be limited to 12 passengers each trip. The operators cannot guarantee that tidal conditions will always allow vehicles to disembark and load at Kennacraig.
Notices of the dates and interim arrangements will be posted on the ferry itself, the electronic signboards at the terminals and in the local papers.
There is a long history of issues at the existing ferry berth, the basic configuration of which make it prone to accumulating silt and seaweed. This occasionally prevents the berthing of the Gigha ferry, particularly in the winter months, and has led to expensive and disruptive dredging works.
The aim of the current programme of work is to secure as reliable a ferry service as possible and to negate the need for future dredging around the pier.
Willie McSporran, chair of Gigha Community Council, said: “This ferry link is our umbilical cord to the mainland, and after a westerly storm the dreaded words on Gigha are ‘weed at Tayinloan’. So everyone on the island wants this improvement work to go ahead, and is supportive of the efforts to minimise the disruption.
“The community has been involved in the weekend closure discussions, and all concerned seem satisfied with the arrangements for January and can work around the alternative service.
“However, whilst diverting to Kennacraig over a pre-publicised weekend is fine, it is not an option to spill this arrangement over into weekdays. The passenger numbers are limited to 12 – which doesn’t even cover our high school pupils and daily commuters – and there’s no guarantee that they will be able to get ashore once they get there after a 2 hour sailing.
“The Gigha community will continue to work in partnership with the council and its contractor in a bid to ensure that the work is finished as quickly as possible and to the highest possible standard.”