Ferry ports at Coll and Tiree will be closed to vehicles for up to four weeks each as new linkspan decks are installed.
Alternative freight and passenger services will be put in place while the work takes place – but there will be no capacity for vehicle passengers during the projects.
Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) announced it is planning to replace the linkspan decks at the ferry terminals at both islands. Funding of £3.7 million funding has been secured for the projects.
It is anticipated the work will take place in late autumn 2019 at Coll and early spring 2020 at Tiree.
Alastair Redman, councillor for Kintyre and the Islands, said: “While these works are essential and have to happen, the level of disruption is a bit unacceptable. There should have been better contingency plans in place.
“These islands are very important and should not be treated like a backwater. These ferries are not a luxury they are a lifeline.”
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Plans are being put in place to minimise disruption during the works. However a spokesman for CMAL said: “Due to the lack of alternative berths, and weather and swell conditions at Coll and Tiree, this will not be without its challenges.”
He added: “For the duration of the works, the linkspan will be unavailable meaning no vehicle service can be provided. As an alternative, a passenger service will be delivered by MV Clansman, supplemented by a third-party freight vessel, carrying palletised cargo. CalMac is in the process of defining the freight service and is engaging with freight customers to understand their needs and determine how these can be accommodated within the constraints that will be presented by the closure.
“Please be assured that CalMac will work closely with CMAL to minimise the impact on customers and the communities throughout the period of the closure.”
CMAL will host public meetings to share details of the planned arrangements for the linkspan deck replacements. Communities are invited to attend their local meetings at An Cridhe, Coll Community Centre, on Monday December 3 from 4-7.30pm and An Talla Community Hall, Tiree, on Tuesday December 4, 4-7.30pm.
Representatives from CMAL, CalMac and engineering firm Mott MacDonald will discuss the timing of the construction projects, details of the replacement process, port closure and the alternative ferry service arrangements to be in place during the works.
Brian Sydney, senior civil engineer at CMAL said: “The linkspan decks at the two ferry terminals are reaching the end of their serviceable life and are being replaced as part of our ongoing programme of harbour upgrades and improvements. We expect each replacement will require a port closure period of three to four weeks to complete the works, subject to weather conditions. If we can reduce the timescale, we will.”