A NEW sign requesting that large vehicle owners avoid parking at Staffin Harbour has been installed - in a bid to ensure the area is kept accessible for people who need access to the slipway.

Staffin Community Trust (SCT) is hoping to conclude the historic purchase of Staffin slipway and the adjacent area from Scottish Ministers and Highland Council in the next couple of months.

The intention is to deliver major improvements including an enhanced breakwater, upgraded slipway and on-shore facilities to support and create new jobs at the harbour.

One of the issues frequently highlighted in recent years by the community and harbour users – including fishermen, aquaculture workers and local boat owners – was the difficulties faced in being able to park vehicles and vessels, access their equipment and get out to sea.

With very limited space, that essential space was often being taken up by motorhomes and campervans during the summer season.

SCT consulted with Staffin Community Council and the current owners and has now put up a sign respectfully asking larger vehicles to avoid the area.

Staffin Harbour is a working pier where people depend on getting in and out to sea for their livelihoods and should not have their work activities disrupted.

SCT warmly welcomes all visitors to Staffin and fully recognises the contribution made to the local economy. Campervans and motorhomes can book into the AA-3-star Staffin Campsite or find alternative locations in Trotternish.

SCT chairman Donald MacDonald said: “We welcome the steps taken towards purchase of the slipway and continued progress towards the general harbour development. Management of the area, with the appointment of a harbour manager by SCT later this year, will be extremely important to ensure safe and easy access for all users.”

Meanwhile, the new community-run Trotternish Boat Trips are proving popular with visitors since the launch earlier this month.

Minke whales, a pod of Risso’s dolphins, puffins and sea eagles have all been spotted by passengers as they sail around Stenscholl and Flodigarry islands, and south to the Kilt Rock.

SCT is confident the 90-minute trips can generate an important income to support the management of the harbour when it comes into community ownership. The surplus generated will also help secure grants and possible loan finance for the construction costs of the new Staffin Harbour development, which has full planning permission.

Skipper Andi Dunkel said: “The boat trips out of Staffin have proven to be a great success. We have welcomed people from all around the world and they particularly appreciate that our trips and operations are community based. At times it has been difficult to find a parking spot at the harbour due to large numbers of camper vans taking up most of the space. Hopefully the new signs will improve the parking in the harbour area.”

More details, including tickets, can be accessed at: www.puffinsandwhales.co.uk