LERWICK Port Authority’s largest ever capital project, the £16.5 million new Mair’s Pier, was officially opened by Shetland MSP Tavish Scott on Wednesday.
The 800-metre deep water L-shaped quayside, built on reclaimed land, is designed as a hub for the fishing industry and also provides berthing space for the oil industry and the growing number of visiting cruise ships.
It is one of a string of major projects planned by the LPA, including an adjacent new fishmarket which will hopefully be completed by 2019, as part of a bold decision by the harbour authority three years ago to borrow £25 million from the Bank of Scotland.
Work to upgrade the Dales Voe pier for decommissioning work is also underway.
Industry figures and local politicians gathered at Mair’s Pier on Wednesday lunchtime to hear outgoing board chairman Brian Anderson’s address.
He said the new facility was “already making its mark” and was an essential addition to accommodate larger fishing boats.
Anderson also noted that there could be as many as 90,000 cruise ship passengers setting foot in the islands next year, and spoke of his hope that a new terminal for visitors can “someday” be built between Victoria Pier and Malakoff’s town centre base.
Scott said LPA had a consistent track record of investing in Shetland’s future, and paid tribute to its foresight in building the type of facilities required by the marine industry.
“New quays, facilities and deeper, sheltered water reflect the needs of larger vessels, the ever-changing oil and gas industry and the importance of seafood to Shetland and the wider Scottish and UK economy,” he said.
“Mair’s Pier is testament to the Lerwick Port Authority board and the team who make the authority the successful, growing business it is. It is a strategic investment in Lerwick, and so much more.
“The authority recognises the maritime world never stands still and ports must adapt and invest in their facilities to compete.”
The MSP said Shetland was “geographically fortunate” having been in the right place at the right time when North Sea oil was discovered. With thriving fishing and cruise ship sectors the new pier was “the latest major investment by a highly professional and go-ahead port.”
LPA chief executive Sandra Laurenson paid warm thanks to those involved in the Mair’s Pier project, which was designed by Arch Henderson LLP and constructed by Tulloch Developments.
She described it as a “significant addition to our infrastructure”, adding it had been “well received across several sectors where it will help sustain and grow activity”.
“It is also very much a value-added asset as a catalyst for considerable further development, including a new fish market and fishing industry hub,” Laurenson said.
The Bank of Scotland’s Carolyn Martin said it had a “long-standing relationship” with the LPA and was “pleased to be supporting such an important series of projects”.
On a bright and sunny, if not entirely summery, weekday afternoon invited guests were entertained with music from the Hjaltibonhoga fiddlers, while a dedication to the pier was also delivered by Aubrey Jamieson of the local Fishermen’s Mission.