The council is to invest £3 million this year in dredging Scalloway Harbour, it was agreed at a meeting of the harbour board today.
The work will create a channel 8.5 metres deep by 100 metres wide, and straighten the approaches into the harbour. The harbour board had originally hoped to dredge to 9.5 metres, but this was deemed too expensive.
The dredging work will enable larger vessels with deeper draught to use the harbour, and it is anticipated the work will attract oil-related business from the west of Shetland.
It is hoped the work will start at the end of the summer and be finished in a couple of months, depending on the weather and shipping.
The exact cost of the project will not be known until the tenders come back, however. The spoil will be dumped at sea.
The dredging is the second phase of a three-phase project to improve amenities at the harbour – the first, already completed, was to build a store at Blacksness Pier.
Local councillor and member of the harbour board Iris Hawkins said: “We have been trying to get improvements in Scalloway Harbour for a number of years, we have phase one and we hope phase two will be in place by the end of the year.” Ideally she would have liked a deeper channel, she said, but accepts that the 8.5m channel will “cater for most of the business coming our way”.
Phase three will be the replacement of an existing pier in the harbour, making it deeper and longer, which it is hoped will go into the 2012-13 capital programme.