STORNOWAY could enjoy a surge in tourist numbers and renewable energy activity in coming years under plans for a deep water terminal at the town’s port which is expected to provide a huge boost to the local economy.

The authority in charge of the port on the Isle of Lewis said work on what it described as a transformational project is expected to start in coming weeks and to be completed before the end of next year.

The authority noted that the main berth at the terminal will be suitable for the largest cruise liners, which it said will help boost the islands’ important tourism industry.

A spokesperson for the authority said a number of liner bookings have been confirmed for the new berth for 2024. A lot more bookings are expected to be made in coming months.

The terminal will also be able to accommodate on and offshore wind farm vessels and support other energy sector activity.

The authority said development of the terminal will also increase the capabilities and flexibility of the Arnish fabrication yard at Stornoway.

READ MORE: Highland port to welcome record number of cruise liners this year

Stornoway Port Authority has awarded a £49million contract for construction of the multi-purpose deep water terminal to building and civil engineering firm McLaughlin and Harvey.

The chair of the authority, Murdo Murray, said the signing of the contract with McLaughlin and Harvey signalled the imminent start of “an historic project which has the potential to truly transform the economy of the Outer Hebrides.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the terminal will be a game changer for the local economy. “The Scottish Government has long been supportive of this project, which will create jobs and multiple economic benefits,” he noted.

READ MORE: Windfarm developers plan multi-million pound investment at Scottish port

Stornoway Port Authority said initial work to develop the new facility will include piling activity, the blasting of 750,000 tonnes of rock and dredging.

The authority said it had spent around four years developing plans for the new terminal with the Scottish Government, the Scottish Futures Trust, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar, the local authority for the Western Isles.

It also acknowledged the important involvement of Crown Estate Scotland and the Stornoway Trust. These own the seabed and landward property required in connection with the terminal.