The need for significant improvements at the Staffin Slipway has been highlighted by the local community for several years as a key priority.
At present, there is no secure boat storage, a lack of shelter to protect vessels coming in and out of the pier, with limited opportunities for berthing and no basic amenities such as a water, fuel or power supply.
SCT received financial support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Highland Council and the aquaculture company, Organic Sea Harvest Ltd, to hire Wallace Stone Consulting Engineers Ltd, which produced a new Site Plan.
SCT is of the view that the redevelopment should be aiming to serve:
- The Local Community
- Fishing boats/aquaculture companies
- Marine tourism – sailing boats, yachts etc
The Site Plan includes provision for:
- Improved berthing amenities and increased shelter for a range of vessels including: - fishing boats, fish farm landing craft and pleasure/tourism crafts
- Water and power supply
- Secure storage for boats in and out of water
- Fuel provision
- Improved depth of water for vessels to increase usage, particularly for yachts
- Marine tourism amenities, including pontoons, showers/toilets
SCT's aspirations to redevelop the Slipway received a major boost in February 2020. SCT was awarded a £969,000 grant from the Scottish Government's Regeneration Capital Grant Fund. SCT is working hard to secure the rest of the funding required. Organic Sea Harvest has indicated it will pay a community benefit levy for landing fish at the Slipway. SCT propose to use that receipt as a contribution towards the redevelopment, provisionally costed at more than £3m.
History of the Staffin Slipway
"One thing that would be an immense benefit to the whole of this parish, is the erection of a harbour and pier in Staffin Bay. I am informed that such could be made at no great expense. I am led to understand that Major Fraser has devoted a good deal of attention to this scheme some time ago, although it was never carried out. One great boon is that it would help to develop the fishing of the district, which is said to be second to none in the West Highlands.
"The steamers pass close to Staffin Bay four times a week, coming and going from Glasgow. These could then be taken advantage of, in conveying the fish to the market... the fishing would prove more remunerative than tending their crofts. Second, the carriage of goods at present is very expensive, so much so that it depreciates the value of the land in this district, through its inconvenience to the market. It is often the cause of great hardships, as meal and potatoes have to be carried, often on the back, 12, 13, and 14 miles."
Waged over large parts of the 1800s, the "war" was a dispute between landowners and communities distressed by high rents, their lack of rights to land, or facing eviction to make way for large-scale farming operations.
Rev James Davidson, Stenscholl, as told to The Napier Commission, which was a famous public inquiry into the tough conditions faced by crofters and cottars in the Highlands. It had erupted into open conflict with landowners here in Staffin but also in Braes and Glendale in the 1880s.
Known locally as “The Slip” - our harbour is regarded with great affection by the community’s residents, both past and present.
It was a lifeline for generations of local people with essential supplies being delivered by boat. It still is a key source of fish and seafood and the slipway area is also a recreational asset for Staffin’s community and visitors whether it is fishing off the rocks, camping, walking or bird watching.
The Congested Districts Board, which was subsequently set up by the UK Government to bring about major fishing and agriculture improvement to the crowded and poverty-stricken communities in the Highlands and Islands, built the original Slip in the early 1900s.
The stone slipway and a store was constructed by local men to allow freight to be delivered. Before its construction there was nowhere to store the cargo, from the boats, which delivered supplies between Glasgow and the islands.
In 2000, HRH The Princess Royal opened the extended Highland Council-owned slip and a new breakwater. The improved slipway and access road was the Staffin Community's Trust’s flagship project at a cost of £350,000, with the final £10,000 required raised in only four weeks by the community. Funding had been secured from various sources including the European Union.