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Public meetings arranged on new £48.5million isles ferry

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Public meetings on the introduction of a new £48.5million ferry for the Western Isles are being held next month.

The MV Hebrides is set to be replaced on the Skye triangle routes late next year.

But the new ship is too big for each of her three service harbours requiring million of pounds to be spent in improvement works.

Before she can be put into service, three piers at each of her voyage ports have to be strengthened to accommodate her larger bulk.

The 102-metre long “green” dual fuel ship will be powered on the liquefied natural gas (LNG) which is cleaner than the traditional marine diesel her engines can also operate on.

Highland Council which owns Uig harbour in the north of Skye – the mainland landfall port for the ferry – proposes spending £23million on a new pier as the new-build is too big for the existing structure.

The authority warns ferry berthing charges will be increased to pay for strengthening works.

Meanwhile, engineers have been hired to draw up the redesign of the two Western Isles harbours.

Mooring arrangements, fendering, vehicle marshalling, access roads and footpaths at Lochmaddy and Tarbert are all in line for redesign and improvement.

Tarbert pier is owned by Cmal while the Lochmaddy ferry terminal belongs to Western Isles Council.

An agreement is in place for Cmal manage the development and delivery of required works at Lochmaddy on the islands’ council’s behalf.

Lorna Spencer, Cmal’s director of harbours, said: “The meetings are an opportunity for local communities to find out the latest information on the new ferry construction, as well as discussions around harbour infrastructure improvements.”

The work to identify harbour requirements will be completed this summer.

Representatives from CMAL, Cal Mac Ferries Limited, Transport Scotland and the relevant local council will attend the meetings at 7pm at Uig Community Centre on April 3, Harris Hotel on April 4, and Lochmaddy Hall on April 5.

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