SHIPBUILDING is returning to Stornoway for the first time in 100 years, it has been declared.

Stornoway Port Authority has struck a 10-year lease agreement with Devon-based Coastal Workboats, which will relocate its fabrication to a state-of-the-art engineering workshop at Goat Island. Twenty-five jobs are expected to be created, providing a major boost to the local economy.

Coastal plans to build a range of workboats at the Western Isles site, including those designed and ordered by Dutch shipbuilder Damen. It will initially focus on building an electric workboat, earmarked for the ferry industry and aquaculture sector, which has been funded by a £6.2 million grant from the UK Government.

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Attracting the shipbuilder to Stornoway is a significant coup for the local port authority, which has invested £59 million in a new deep-water terminal that is due for completion before the end of the year. That follows the creation of a new marina with 81 berths and the opening of a new MacDuff Shellfish factory under the regeneration of the port’s Goat Island, which required an investment of £12m.

The deep-water terminal and revival of Goat Island represent major planks of a master plan to future-proof Stornoway Port which was set out in 2017.

Alex Macleod, chief executive of Stornoway Port Authority, said: “We are excited to embark on this journey with Coastal Workboats. This partnership reaffirms our commitment to fostering innovation and growth within the marine industry. The facility at Goat Island is world-class, with overhead cranes specifically designed for vessel construction and we are thrilled to support Coastal Workboats as they undertake these ambitious projects. This agreement also marks the return of a dedicated shipbuilder in Stornoway for the first time in 100 years, and we are proud to have played our part in bringing this industry back to the island.”

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Brian Pogson, director of Coastal Workboats, said: “As a family-run company, we’ve taken pride in building Coastal Workboats on a foundation of community; actively engaging with a local workforce and supplier network throughout each chapter of our work. We’re therefore thrilled to continue this family and friends ethos with our move to Stornoway – investing in, learning from, and growing with a fantastic community with a national reputation.”

Coastal Workboat’s new facility at Stornoway will be supported by 3D CAD design, which brings greater efficiency in the fabrication process. The company also signalled its commitment to work with local colleges and training centres to ensure future opportunities for industry entrants and the continued upskilling of current workforce.