Contract awarded for Tayinloan pier

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Published Date: 

4 Oct 2011 - 12:04

A multi-million pound project to improve the ferry facilities at Tayinloan will start over the next few weeks following a successful tendering exercise.


The £2.3m programme of works will be carried out by Graham Construction of Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland – the same firm which recently carried out work at Kennacraig ferry terminal.


Grahams submitted the most competitive bid and was the clear winner of the tender process.


Work will start later this month and, weather conditions permitting, will be completed by May next year in time for the peak summer tourist season.


Argyll and Bute’s spokesperson for rural and island affairs, housing and Gaelic, Councillor Robin Currie, said the news would be welcomed by all those who use the ferry service to and from the island of Gigha, which is occasionally disrupted because of problems at the terminal.


“The aim of this project is to improve the reliability of the ferry service to the Gigha community and also to ensure its long term sustainability,” he added.


“The scope of works to improve the operation of the Tayinloan slipway has required careful consideration to ensure that the project aims can be delivered within the available budget. 


“The works programme is mainly coastal in nature and will be carried out largely from the shore, which has required agreement from local interests. 


“I am very pleased that the contract has now been awarded and I look forward to the works being successfully completed next year.” 


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 work about to start is to secure as reliable a ferry service as possible and to negate the need for future dredging around the pier.


The five key elements of the agreed work are:


  • Sand bypass – moving between 70,000 and 80,000 tonnes of sand from the beach south of the pier to an area to the north. This will relocate much of the sand which has gathered over the years against the breakwater and which is being carried around the end of the structure to be deposited at the bottom of the slipway. The recharging of the beach to the north will infill the area around the existing old pier.
  • Causeway – an open section or bridge is being formed in the causeway leading to the pier and slipway to allow water and sediment to pass through the terminal and on up the coast rather than gathering against the breakwater.
  • Slipway – the existing slipway is being repaired and widened to accept wider vessels and in particular the proposed new hybrid ferries which are being introduced by Calmac on selected west coast routes.
  • Existing pier – essential repairs to the timber structure are to be carried out.
  • Old pier – the old pier to the north of the terminal is to be removed so as to allow the movement of sand and sediment up the coastline in a northerly direction. The pier will   present a barrier to this natural phenomenon when the open or bridge section in the causeway is formed.


The work will result in occasional disruption to ferry users.


Three weekend closures of the ferry service between now and Christmas are proposed in order to allow piling works to safely take place. The dates of these closures will be announced as soon as possible.


In addition, ferry operator Calmac has made an alternative, smaller ferry available for use on the route which would allow slipway works to progress while the service is maintained.


Any disruption both to the travelling public and to local landowners and residents will be minimised as much as possible by Graham Construction.


“There is bound to be some inconvenience for the communities of bothTayinloan and Gigha, but these will be kept to an absolute minimum,” Councillor Currie said.


“The reward at the end of the work 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.”