New Marina For Wick Harbour By 2009 Sailing Season
7th December 2008
Wick, on the east coast of Caithness, received a major confidence boost this week, following news that a £576,000 funding package (loan and grant) has been secured to install a marina development in the town's harbour.
The deal has required complex negotiations between the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) which is providing the vital funding conduit. The Crown Estate has provided around half the total sum to the project's applicants, Wick Harbour Authority.
Wick harbour is the largest harbour on the east coast of Caithness and in the face of declining fish landings, the Harbour Authority has a vision to rejuvenate its fortunes with a diverse portfolio of activities for its long-term future.
Research has shown that the town will benefit from the increasing numbers of visiting yachts - particularly in light of the 40% increase in trade recorded since the opening of 12 seasonal pontoons at Wick last year.
Willie Watt, chairman of Wick Harbour Authority said: "This project is a major step forward in diversifying activities in the harbour and provides an important new income stream. We are very confident that we can build on our Phase I pontoon development success and attract a wide range of vessels to the town. The pontoons which will provide year round berthing offers 50 serviced and 20 non-serviced berths. Additionally our plan includes secure over-winter storage and provision of maintenance services for yachts which will bring in additional revenues. We are particularly grateful to the team from HIE - Carol Gunn, Hilary Budge and Sandra McCaughey and also Alasdair Rankin of The Crown Estate for taking this forward."
Randall Bergelt from the NDA said: "We are delighted to be contributing to such a valuable asset for Wick. The new marina will enable yachts to have individual berths rather than be tied up next to each other or to the harbour wall. Easier and safer access to the harbour will encourage many more yachts to visit and travellers to disembark and make use of local services."
The project will support development of marina facilities in other areas by becoming part of a vital network of staging-posts in the North of Scotland within a reasonable day's sail (30-40 miles). Other pontoon facilities have been developed recently at Helmsdale and Inverness, while Orkney Marinas, which have seen a steady rise in business, are welcoming the proposals for Wick.
Roy Kirk, HIE's area manager for Caithness and Sutherland explained: "This development is essentially strengthening the sailing infrastructure in the North of Scotland and marketing will be targeted towards the Scottish and UK markets.
"HIE was delighted to be able to assist the NDA, and Wick Harbour Authority to fund the marina infrastructure and maximise the opportunities afforded by the Crown Estate. This project will set the scene for a transformation of Wick's harbour front and improve the town's future."
Alasdair Rankin, Head of Marine Business Development Scotland, at The Crown Estate, said: "We are delighted to be working with HIE and Wick Harbour Authority on this initiative which we hope will revitalise Wick, encourage more sailors to visit the North of Scotland and provide a boost to the local economy."
The development is part of the Caithness and North Sutherland Action Plan set out in November 2007 as a framework of economic regeneration to combat the effect of the rundown and eventual closure of the Dounreay nuclear plant.
It is expected that the pontoons will be in place in time for the 2009 summer sailing season.