Impromptu Meeting With A Top UK Cabinet Minister At Gills
24th January 2014
The three officer-bearers of the community company which owns and operates Gills Harbour, the Scottish mainland’s most Northerly port in Caithness, held a surprise impromptu meeting with a top UK Cabinet Minister on Friday 24th January, 2014.
The Rt. Hon. Danny Alexander, First Secretary to the Treasury, was in the ferry waiting room at Gills Harbour getting ready to board Pentland Ferries Ltd’s 2,400-tonne modern catamaran vessel ‘Pentalina’ on her regular mid-day crossing of the Pentland Firth’s ‘short sea crossing’ to St Margaret’s Hope, 15 miles away.
Office-bearers Bill Mowat, of nearby John O’Groats, Caithness chairman of Gills Harbour Ltd, (GHL) his vice-chairman Clifford Shepherd, of Quoys of Canisbay farm on the shores of Gills Bay and GHL’s secretary John Green, also of John O’Groats, four miles away, met the minister. He was using Scotland’s most successful ‘mainland to island group’ sea-link for the very first time; it’s the only one that doesn’t get any subsidy.
The Minister was heading across the Pentland Firth with the family-owned company’s ship to a function in the Orkney Islands.
The office-bearers were at Gills for a meeting with consultants in connection with GHL’s plans to upgrade the harbour to meet the stated needs of consortia and marine contractors aiming to generate ‘horizontal hydro’ electricity from the fast-flowing ‘tidal streams’, all four of which Crown Estate Seabed leases in the Pentland Firth lie within 8 miles of Gills, which was scheduled after the 13;30 pm sailing.
They told the Minister that Gills Harbour Ltd operates under ‘company articles’ devised by the Scottish Government’s jobs agency Highlands & Islands Enterprise to encourage local community land-holding trading firms in ‘remoter’ areas in the North and West of Scotland.
Mr Shepherd said that there were plans by MeyGen Ltd to take sub-sea cables ashore on his farm and that a report earlier in the week, by top Edinburgh & Oxford University engineers, had claimed that the Pentland Firth’s swift tide-streams could ‘generate half of Scotland’s power needs’.
The Cabinet Minister, who serves as MP for Inverness, talked about his ancestral family links with the Far North area. He was named after his great-uncle Dan Alexander, whose firm was the main builder of wooden fishing boats in Wick from the 1930s to the 1950s; but he had traced his family’s links to the little village of Keiss, between John O’Groats and Wick.
Gills Harbour Ltd, the community-owned body that owns & operates the busy little port on Caithness's North Coast, has awarded a remedial contract to a Wick-based company. The deal, won in a competitive tender, has gone to builders/civil engineers Messrs GMR Henderson Ltd, of Martha Terrace in Wick.
REPORT FROM GILLS HARBOUR Ltd., GILLS BAY, KW1 4YB, FOR CAITHNESS TRANSPORT FORUM OF 06.03.2019. 1) ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ZONE.
The big offshore construction vessel Seabed Stingray (8,878 tonnes) arrived in the Pentland Firth's Inner Sound from the Cromarty Firth's Nigg Energy Park around 07:00 on Monday (15.10.18) morning with a very special cargo on board. The 121 metre-long vessel was in the narrow strait between Gills Bay and Stroma Island to replace two of the four 'pioneering' tidal turbines that had been lifted out from SIMEC Atlantis Energy's MeyGen site last Summer for inspection and modification at Nigg.
Picture by Gills Harbour Ltd's Hon Sec Lyall Rennie, of Lower Warse, Canisbay KW1 4YB shows the busy Pentalina ferry in foreground approaching the harbour and passing by the heavy offshore construction vessel Viking Neptun. Deployed on Friday 20th July to recover two Andrtiz 1.5 MW turbines for warranty repairs from the Pentland Firth's Inner Sound from SIMEC Atlantis Energy plc's seabed lease, known as the MeyGen site, just off Gills Bay ( just over 1 NM) in NE Caithness.
Since the news came out in the John O'Groat Journal that Stage coach are to change bus services for Gills and John O'Groats protests have been getting louder. the proposed bus timetable changes from 20th August which effectively abolish the direct route from Wick to John o'Groats and Gills.
Gills Harbour Ltd, the community body that owns and runs Gills Harbour on Caithness's North Coast, has a new office-bearer. At its recent Annual General Meeting, Mr Mark Gibson of Northern View, John O'Groats KW1 4YS, was unanimously appointed as the body's Vice-Chairman.
OFFICIAL FIGURES SHOW MORE PEOPLE AND CARS SAILED ACROSS THE PENTLAND FIRTH FROM CAITHNESS TO ORKNEY IN 2016 FROM GILLS BAY THAN ON ANY OTHER ROUTE. Official figures recently published by Scottish Government 'spending watchdog' body Audit Scotland show that the so-called 'short sea-route' from Gills Bay to St Margaret's Hope was the busiest seaway to Orkney across the Pentland Firth in 2016.
One of the contractors that has been operating in the Inner Sound for Atlantis RL's MeyGen site has been taken over by another, a much-larger one. See note on Insight Marine Services Ltd of Cornwall.
Notice of Annual General Meeting: On Tuesday 21.03.2017 @ 19.30. Gills Harbour Ltd: A Community- owned trading Company limited by guarantee.
Jack-up barge Neptune arrives in the PF's Inner Sound early this afternoon 22.09.16. German tug Elbe, which will be working closely with the self-propelled JU, is already on site.
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