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Pier replacement

The Comhairle has requested a screening opinion on the need for an environmental impact assessment on the proposed replacement of the pier at Acarsaid.

The request for screening to the Comhairle as Local Planning Authority is in advance of a formal, detailed planning application to replace the ageing wood-piled pier with a steel-piled pier.

Replacement would extend the life of the pier facility by 50 years. The proposal also includes a pontoon extension, an attenuator at the outer end, and realignment of the pontoon access.

In their request for screening, the Comhairle states that Acarsaid is a naturally sheltered anchorage on the east coast of Eriskay and provides good access to the fishing grounds east and west of South Uist and Barra.

“This flexibility sustains fishing activity in summer and winter and allows the fleet to alter fishing effort to match seasonal fishing grounds,” adds the Comhairle.

The replacement is being proposed after local fishing, business and community interests highlighted the deteriorating state of the 40-year-old pier, the potential for structural failure and the loss of a facility that supports a significant fishing sector and associated employment at sea and onshore.

The existing pier, built in 1974, comprises seven timber piles with foundations at bed level and cast into concrete bases dowelled into rock. Timber piles support primary beams affixed to concrete blocks on the bedrock behind the pier.

Under the plans drawn up, the existing pier would be demolished to bedrock level and replaced during a temporary closure.

The screening request goes on that the new pier is to be constructed using driven steel tubular piles fixed to the seabed using anchored stainless-steel pins. The new deck area would be approximately 33 metres x 10 metres.

The deck will mainly consist of a reinforced concrete slab supported on a pile cap and beam arrangement of 13 508 mm diameter steel tubular piles. The existing pontoon system will be re-aligned to tie into the new pier. Additional sections will be added along with an attenuator to improve the anchorage.

The Comhairle, as the applicant, notes that the new Acarsaid pier will permit the berthing of larger vessels and could be used as an emergency berth for the Eriskay to Barra ferry.