Orkney pier set to be dismantled and rebuilt to fit ferry

The pier is currently unable to fit the £1.5m vessel bought by the local council in spring 2020.

Orkney Papa Westray pier set to be dismantled and rebuilt to fit ferry LDRS

The Orkney island of Papa Westray could see its pier destroyed and a new one built so it can begin being served by a ferry bought by the local council back in 2020.

This may end up being the case if the council follows the advice given by engineers called in to look at how the pier could accommodate the replacement ferry, The Nordic Sea.

The Westray to Papa Westray route is currently being served by the 49-year-old ferry, Golden Mariana.

This is despite Orkney Islands Council having bought The Nordic Sea back in spring 2020 to replace the old ferry.

Purchased in Norway, the vessel cost £1.5m with the Scottish Government picking up half that tab.

The Nordic Sea suffered a series of incidents – including being damaged on its maiden voyage between Westray and Papa Westray.

Its purchase was even the subject of an internal audit by Orkney Islands Council.

The conclusion was that alterations were going to have to be made at the ferry terminals in Papa Westray and Westray to accommodate the vessel.

However, according to the council’s head of marine services, Jim Buck, the recommendation is now to destroy the pier at Papa Westray completely and build a new one.

It is anticipated that this would come with a price tag of £20m-£25m. This information came to light after north isles ward councillor Mellissa Thomson asked for an update on the alterations.

Mr Buck said: “We’ve had engineers have a look and see what is possible.

“Their recommendation is a completely new pier.

“It would actually be cheaper to destroy what’s there and build something that’s fit for purpose rather than try and sort out the issues with that pier.

“That will be a significant project, probably in the region of £20m to £25m.

“It will need new design work on what a new pier would be, where it would be sited and what it would look like.”

Councillor Thomson then asked what the immediate plans for the community on Papa Westray are.

This is bearing in mind that they continue to be served by a vessel that is almost 50 years old.

She said: “I would like to know what the plans are. We’re not just going to get a new pier next week.”

Mr Buck said he’d only been given the information from the engineers last week.

Marine services are now working out what is possible and what they can achieve.

However, he said that what they have is unlikely to change in the immediate future, unfortunately.

Councillor Thomson asked for marine services to meet with Papa Westray’s community council to “allay fears they have”.

Mr Buck agreed to this being done.

Following the meeting, Orkney Council stressed that no decision has been made yet.

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