Transport Minister inaugurates dredging project creating new opportunities.
A new era of opportunities for Lerwick Harbour is being launched officially today, Tuesday, 13 October, with a celebration marking the latest significant phase in an ongoing development programme at the Shetland port.
A £12 million dredging project in 2008 opened the door to improved access for larger ships now operating in various sectors, including offshore oil and gas, fishing and the cruise industry, and reclaimed land for new developments.
Brian Anderson, Chairman, Lerwick Port Authority, said: “The dredging project has ushered in a new era of opportunities for Lerwick Harbour, with the capacity to handle larger vessels and additional land for new and expanding activities by a variety of companies. It marks another important milestone in creating the infrastructure for the future.”
To commemorate the occasion, Stewart Stevenson MSP, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure & Climate Change will unveil a framed edition of the port’s navigation chart, updated following the project.
Mr Stevenson said: “This is an exciting project and the improved access will provide a real boost to Shetland’s local economy, encouraging larger vessels to call in to these islands. In these challenging economic times, it’s important that our more remote communities play to their strengths and this £12 million investment does just that.
“This is the first stage of a much wider development which will go on to safeguard almost 2,500 Shetland jobs.”
The Minister and other guests will see the areas of improvement while touring the port on board the ferry, Hjaltland.
There is now a minimum of nine metres of water depth north to south through the entire harbour, which has two entrances. The dredging provided a deepened north channel and a widened north entrance and basin at Greenhead Base.
Benefits for the pelagic fish sector include deepened berths at Shetland Catch and at Shetland Fish Products’ fishmeal and oil factory at Heogan, Bressay. Dredging was also carried out for a new quay, now being planned as the site for Lerwick’s new fish market for white fish landings.
The project has also enhanced Lerwick’s role in the offshore industry, including in handling larger vessels, onshore decommissioning, and marine support for offshore exploration, development, production and decommissioning.
Construction of two news quays, with nine metres’ water depth, at Greenhead Base will begin next year, increasing the berthing by a third.
Concepts have been developed to show how Lerwick can provide deep-water infrastructure with at least 20 metres’ depth. There are two suitable locations, at Dales Voe and next to the reclaimed land at North Greenhead.
Designated for future development, the reclaimed area, extending to more than 10 acres, has been created from the dredged materials sourced in the largest single capital scheme in the port’s modern history.