A massive, multi-million-pound pier has been officially opened in Lerwick today – the largest single project ever undertaken by Lerwick Port Authority.
The £16.5 million Mair’s Pier will be used largely by the isles fishing industry, though it will also offer berthing to cruise ships and oil supply vessels.
Shetland MSP Tavish Scott unveiled a sign for the new structure and hailed the importance of the new development.
“This is a huge strategic investment by the port, not just here in Shetland but I would argue on a UK-wide basis,” he said.
“This port authority has always recognised that the marine world changes,” added Mr Scott.
“It keeps getting bigger and therefore you need bigger facilities in order to deal with that.
“That’s a sign of an organisation that both understand their market and understand what the future is all about.”
Stretching far into Bressay Sound and named after the herring station based there in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The project involved land reclamation, construction of an 804-metre deep-water L-shaped quay,and demolition of a smaller jetty and included creating a working area over 1.5 hectares. The outer arm creates a dock which will shelter the new market, with construction planned to start this year.
“It’s really good to be able to recognise this significant project, which is so far the biggest project in the port’s history in terms of cost,” said Lerwick Port Authority chief executive Sandra Laurenson.
“We’ve got a tremendous asset now with berthing space, a sheltered dock for the fishing fleet and we’ve got the capacity now to grow the cruise ship sector and provide some deep water berths for some of the ships that use the port.”
The main consultant on the project was Arch Henderson, providing design, project management and cost control, with Shetland civil and marine contractor, Tulloch Developments.
“This is really the catalyst for this part of the port becoming the fishing hub,” Ms Laurenson said.
“Over the next couple of months we hope to hear about the award of a new fish market and some of the offices will also move to this part of the town, and this will be very much the fishing centre in Lerwick.”
The new fish market will be an 18-month build, Ms Laurenson said and is likely to be ready in early 2019.
“It’s something I think all the whitefish sector are very much looking forward to.”
Port authority chairman Brian Anderson said they aimed to provide “a modern port”
“For the pelagic fleet we have a lay-down berth, with plug-in shore power. For the white fish [industry] we have a sheltered dock and plenty of space.
For the cruise ship sector we have a good, long berth and space for coaches and for shipping companies and agents we now have more capacity options for berthing.”
Mr Anderson said there were plans to dredge the berth at Mair’s Pier to maximise the benefits.
And he hoped the new development would help maintain the port as the second largest port in the country.
The port authority has borrowed £25 million from the Bank of Scotland to invest in the Mair’s Pier, Dales Voe pier and the new fish market.
Bank of Scotland mid markets relationship manager, Carolyn Martin, said: “The expansion to Lerwick Harbour will provide a significant boost to the Shetland economy. Bank of Scotland has a long-standing relationship with Lerwick Port Authority and is pleased to be supporting such an important series of projects.
“The development of the port is part of the authority’s long-term strategy to reinforce Lerwick’s future and supports future jobs and growth.”