Cruise berths expansion proposed for Invergordon
The Cromarty Firth Port Authority has published a £23m development plan which will increase facilities for cruise ships in the firth, extending Berth 5 at the Invergordon Service Base by 215 metres, which will enable the port to accommodate the largest cruise ships currently envisaged, carrying up to 6000 passengers.
The Port Authority claims that the development will bring a substantial cash injection to the Highlands, and a spokesman for VisitScotland has welcomed the development, saying "Tourism is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy, . . . and further well-managed investment at the port in Invergordon will help keep the port at the forefront of what cruise visitors are looking for and will bring a welcome economic boost to the Highlands."
However, the proposed development is seen by many on the Black Isle as being anything but an unmitigated benefit for the area, and concerns have been expressed about environmental issues such as the running of cruise ships' diesel engines to provide power while in port, and whether cruise passengers' spending significantly benefits small businesses in the local communities.
Pre-application consultation was apparently announced in February, and a public exhibition about the proposals was held on 27 March. The Port Authority's website has a link to a consultation questionnaire, to which responses were requested by 16 April (but it's probably still worth responding). TBI director Julian Paren has submitted separate responses to the questionnaire on behalf of TBI and BITT (Black Isle Tourism Team).
Fellow-director Vanessa Halhead has pointed out that the development does not need planning permission, requiring only a licence from the Marine Scotland (the Scottish Government). The Port Authority's licence application, to be submitted in May, is required to be accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment, which will be made public. Marine Scotland will then consult 'stakeholders' including SNH, SEPA and Highland Council, and there should also be an opportunity for further input from local community groups and individuals. The Authority expects construction to begin in October 2018.
'North Star' advertising feature 16 March 2018.
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