Multimillion pound plans for pontoons by the piers at Kilcreggan, Gourock and Dunoon have been revealed after a five-month battle.
Argyll and Bute Council refused to release details of the feasibility study or even say how much it had cost, despite it being referred to in public meetings by councillors and SPT officials.
But following Freedom of Information requests which went to the Scottish Information Commissioner’s Office the documents have now been made available by the council and appear here for the first time. They reveal:
- Pontoons in Kilcreggan would cost £0.5m and £1.45m in Dunoon
- The Gourock pontoons would cost £1.14m – but the Kempock Street Bay site is thought unsuitable unless £3.5m extra is spent on building a breakwater
- Hinged access bridges would be used, resting free on the pontoons themselves and with security gates at the shore connection
- It uses as design vessels the Argyll Flyer and Ali Cat for Dunoon and Clydelink’s Island Princess for Kilcreggan
- The 62-page feasibility study by Arch Henderson cost nearly £20,000. It is dated June 29 but was only released this week – the first request for it was made on July 10
The report says that in Dunoon an area behind the breakwater would be suitable for pontoons.
It predicts a maximum annual wave of 0.8m, and a ’50 year event’ wave of 1.2m, stating: “These values are well in excess of those which would be survivable for a marina pontoon but are adequate for industrial steel pontoons.”
As revealed here, previous FOI disclosures show Argyll and Bute intentions to have Dunoon pier staffed by ferry workers rather than council employees as is currently the case,
In Gourock, port owners Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) say the structure of the current Kilcreggan berth is in poor condition.
It has the lowest wave values of the three sites and is described as ‘a reasonably sheltered harbour’.
But CMAL suggest ‘none of it is re-usable in any way and would be far more comfortable not having to rely on this structure for any new berthing facilities’ and so it is ruled out as an option
The Kempock Street bay area in Gourock is considered, but has ‘rather high’ wave figures and the report says a rock-filled breakwater would be needed – costing £3.5m.
The report adds: “It is considered that this site cannot be reasonably developed for a scheduled ferry service without expenditure on cost prohibitive breakwater structures.”
The report states that Kilcreggan’s pier dates ‘from around the start of the 20th century’ – in fact it was built in 1897.
There is no mention of the fact that it is a grade B listed building, but it is said to be ‘in a reasonably good condition’.
The predicted annual wave is 0.9m with a 50 year figure of 1.35m, with the report stating:
“These values, and indeed most of the values calculated, suggest that Kilcreggan is rather exposed.
“At Kilcreggan, there is a risk of damage due to the generally heavier anticipated waves at this location.
“Consequently it would be prudent, if this were to proceed, to consider some contingency allowance for repairs to this facility beyond the normal maintenance allowance.”
The report concludes: “It is apparent that the pontoon facilities could be developed at a cost of between £0.5m (KIlcreggan) and £1.45m (Dunoon).
“The site at Kempock Street Bay in Gourock is considered to be unsuited to pontoons unless substantial sums are expended on creating more shelters at this site.”
The study cost £19,961.21, with the Scottish Government paying half the cost and the rest being shared between SPT, Argyll Ferries, CMAL and Inverclyde and Argyll and Bute councils.
For drawings of all the pontoon proposals, see this related story.