MAJOR refurbishment work needs to be carried out on the Walls pier for it to continue acting as a major hub for the aquaculture industry.
Members of the SIC’s harbour board heard the ageing structure, which dates back almost 100 years, was in dire need of work costing almost a quarter of a million pounds before it becomes a no-go area for vehicles.
West Side councillor Frank Robertson told councillors at the Town Hall yesterday five years had already passed since an initial independent survey by industrial engineers Arch Henderson showed the structure was beginning to fail.
A follow-up survey confirmed the deterioration of the top of the pier was continuing.
The pier’s troubles mean a load restriction may have to be put on to the structure within a year to 18 months, meaning it would be open to pedestrians only.
That will depend on the outcome of a survey led by ports and harbour engineer Andrew Inkster, which will be carried out soon.
Mr Robertson said preventing vehicles from driving onto the pier would severely hamper the work currently carried out on the structure.
He added over 30 people were employed full-time in the aquaculture industry off Walls.
“It is the main pier for the aquaculture industry in Walls, where we are having harvested mussels landed and heavy equipment taken up to the salmon farms and mussel farms,” he said.
“It’s also the main pier for the Foula ferry. It needs to be accessible to vehicles for the Foula ferry to supply the island and for the aquaculture industry.”
He said the engineers’ report in 2002 outlined a “very high cost” of repairing the pier at around £200,000.
Following a socio-economic survey by AB Associates of Scalloway, a new breakwater with berthing faces for four 10-metre craft, plus a dedicated berth for the Foula Ferry with a goods store and toilet, was considered a favoured choice out of an initial seven options.
It has now gone on to the council’s capital programme, but Mr Robertson said it was important it was given priority before it was rendered unfit for use by vehicles.
“It’s very important that the Walls pier should be looked at during this process. The Walls pier is an open structure and it’s unsafe for leaving vessels berthed overnight during the winter months when there are gales. We have to accept the Walls pier is not really fit for the job it is doing today.”