Thanks to the EU INTERREG IVA funding, berthing at one of Scotland's most remote and sheltered sea lochs will be plain sailing from Wednesday (July 20) as the Morvern community opens the newly built Cala Loch Àlainn pontoons at Lochaline.
The communities of the Highlands most south westerly peninsula are coming together to celebrate their latest initiative which will offer to up to 24 yachts and boats safe berthing and shore access, only moments walk from the village.
Robin Smart is chair of the Morvern Community Development Company (MCDC), he commented: "The Sound of Mull offers stunning sailing and Lochaline already attracts many visitors from neighbouring marinas at Tobermory and Kerrera. We hope the pontoons make it even easier to stay and enjoy Lochaline, and our plans are already underway to provide additional on-shore facilities."
With a number of previous successes delivering projects to benefit the local area's economy, they have brought about this £300,000 project with the help of Sail West, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Highland Council.
The community is delighted to be part of the Sail West project. Led by Donegal County Council, it is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the INTERREG IVA Cross-Border Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body with co-funding provided by the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland and the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government in the Republic of Ireland.
Its aim is to develop sailing opportunities along the North West coast of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the West coast of Scotland. Lochaline will also benefit from its three year MalinWaters marketing programme.
Lee-Anne Doherty, Marketing Officer for the project welcomed the new pontoon facility. She said: "The completion is timely in that the Sail West project partners just last week launched the new consumer facing marine tourism brand MalinWaters aboard a Tall ship in Campbeltown, Argyll."
MalinWaters includes a large part of West Coast from Lough Ryan to Lochaber and the new pontoon in Lochaline will undoubtedly improve the quality of the overall tourism offer while having a positive impact for the local community.
Ian Philp, of HIE commented: "HIE have been supporting community development in the area for many years. In addition to assisting the community company to deliver this project, HIE have directly contributed over £113,000 in grant funding.
"The community has worked hard to come up with innovative ways of delivering services to benefit everyone who lives there. Their ambition to grow meant that they were selected for community account management and with HIE and LEADER's help have employed their own development officer. Her role has been instrumental in delivering this project so quickly."
"Having someone employed by the community itself to drive forward plans is delivering results for fragile areas. It is a win-win situation - the income from this initiative will support future enterprise."
Councillor Dr Michael Foxley of Highland Council said: "The community has worked long and hard for years on this project. Highland councillors and officials have been fully supportive and we have contributed more than £40,000 as well as helping to resolve several problems. The pontoons will now allow many more yachts to visit and to spend time and money in the area."
The launch event will be held at 3pm. As well as pontoon manufacturers Varis Engineering from Forres in Moray, local community representation, politicians and public sector representatives, it is anticipated that Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith who has a close relationship with the area will be present.