Phase 6


The Phase 6 infrastructure project has been developed as THA seeks to maximize opportunities, address constraints affecting the harbour and maintain pace with shifting market trends in the marine sector. The need for ongoing harbour improvements was identified in the original report ‘Tobermory Bay: Past, Present & Future’ (1988) and this new infrastructure has been the over-arching aim since then. The Phase 6 concept was born in June 2009, ‘Phase 6: Infrastructure for Growth’ and further evolved over the years. Funding was successfully secured in 2014 through Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) to cover an engineering study, design costs and a budget estimate, but obtaining funding for the main project has proven difficult in the current European climate. An Options Appraisal is now being developed to reassess cheaper alternatives, which will result in a reduced scope project that still meets with the original objectives.

                                                                                                             Phase 6, Tobermory Harbour

There are many existing issues with the town and the harbour which necessitate the need for the new infrastructure in Tobermory:
  • Historic design – This is both a driver of the towns success and an acknowledged restriction to development. Originally built for sailing ships, for paddle steamers and the horse and cart, Tobermory has only two small piers and no adjacent sea-level land for development.
  • Pier Issues - The central Fishing Pier dries at low tide and suffers silting of the seabed and the Mishnish Pier, owned by CMal, is located at the North end of a very busy Main Street with restricted access.
  • No HEO - Tobermorys’ situation is very unusual in that it has no Statutory Power in the form of Harbour Empowerment Order (HEO) or Harbour Authority to manage the growing marine traffic, specifically large visiting cruise liners. THA are now applying to the Scottish Government to become the Authority.
  • Vulnerable to high winds - The town, its piers and pontoons are extremely vulnerable to both northerly and easterly winds, often resultant in pontoon berths proving an uncomfortable base for visitors afloat.
  • Lack of tidal berthing - Tobermory lacks all tidal, alongside berthing for fishing, commercial and charter boats. Over time the seabed has suffered severe silting, resulting in restricted berthing at the Fishermen’s Pier.
  • Undersize slip - Current slip at Ledaig has no onshore maintenance area and is not suitable for vessels over 25ft.
  • Flooding Issues – The rise in sea levels over recent years has caused major flooding issues on Tobermory Main Street which must be addressed given future global warming indications.
  • Neglected Seabed – The seabed adjacent to Tobermory River is neglected and becoming unsightly. This could potentially provide street level parking for future development.
  • Environmental Consequences - Marine waste resultant from painting and anti-fouling of fishing, commercial and leisure vessels currently carried out on beach, pier and seawall.
  • Cruise ship pressure - Pressure on existing pontoons from large passenger numbers landing from and embarking onto tenders from visiting cruise liners.
  • Commercial/Leisure - Integration of commercial and leisure boats can be problematic at busy periods when cruise ship visits coincide with wildlife tours departing, fishing boats landing or commercial vessels berthing.
  • Loss of Income - Loss of winter income from inability to lease safe berthing to local and visiting boats.
  • Narrow Main Street – pressure on Main Street from traffic is an issue, especially during height of the season. Pedestrian management issues can disrupt already poor flow of traffic in busy summer months.
  • Restricted berthing - Alongside berthing is currently restricted to the Fishermen’s Pier, which is tidal and Mishnish Pier, owned & operated by CMAL.
  • Restricted access – both piers are located at the North end of the very busy and narrow Main Street with limited access for commercial vehicles.
  • Deep water berthing – Deep water berthing is restricted to the CMAL pier in Tobermory.
  • Larger vessels an issue - THA pontoons are restricted to vessels of less than 50ft in length.
  • Loss of direct sea links - Tobermory lost direct sea links to Oban, Coll, Tiree, Barra & the Uists in 1998, resulting in inter-island family splits, loss of commercial and cultural links to the other islands and greatly increased road usage.



The process to obtain a Harbour Empowerment Order (HEO) has already begun and will transform the Tobermory Harbour Association into the Tobermory Harbour Authority. The HEO will secure the Harbour and Bay for the community and allow the new Authority to best manage all marine traffic, as well as delivering agreed opportunities to manage the local CMal assets. Specifically, it will improve large ship anchoring, all boats berthing, additions to the mooring grid, passenger landings and boarding, demarkation of the fairways, allocation of aquaculture sites, recreational uses and the long term conservation of local flora and fauna.


The THA will zone the Bay into Fairways, fixed mooring areas, anchoring areas for both cruise Liners, commercial ships and small boats, aquaculture leases, recreational zones and conservation areas.
New deep water facilities will be provided for the local and visiting fishing fleets to help sustain jobs and activity within the local scallop processing factory and fishing sector service industries. The THA will work with the local fishermen to best manage conflict between static gear, mobile gear and large ships anchoring within the harbour limits.
Harbour Assets
Bringing all the Harbour assets (except for the Fishermen’s Pier, which belongs to the Fishermen’s Association) into Community ownership facilitates best practice. Traffic to and from the CMAL pier can now be transferred to Ledaig and areas of the seabed will be infilled for additional parking.
Car and passenger Ferry to Kilchoan, Ardnamurchan
The THA will build a new wider, safer slip and construct a managed parking area at Ledaig, the result binge easy access to the town and direct and unrestricted access to the main road out of Tobermory. Transferring the ferry from the north end of the street to Ledaig will reduce traffic congestion and minimise wear and tear on the historic Main Street
Seabed Reclamation (future option)
The neglected seabed adjacent to the Tobermory river and now within the Harbour authority, could in the future be reclaimed to create a safe one-way traffic system with additional parking spaces to accommodate the increase in traffic resulting from RET. This project, first designed in 1994, would be in partnership with Argyll and Bute Council.
New Breakwater Pier and Attenuator / Pontoon
A new Pier will be built at Ledaig to overcome the historic and tidal berthing problems associated with the Fishermen’s pier. The new Pier at Ledaig will have refueling, water services and 3-phase electrical supplies. A floating attenuator pontoon will also be added to provide berthing and step-ashore facilities for; super yachts, commercial ships up to 130ft (40m), and local charters boats, maximising visitor spend from passengers and crew and encouraging new links for passenger ferries to other adjacent harbours and piers.
Cruise Liner Management
A new landing and embarkation facility with a very low gradient passenger ramp will be built alongside and protected by the new pier. The new landing berth will separate Cruise Liners and Charter Boat passengers from visitors moored alongside the THA step ashore pontoons. This development will meet all new Health and Safety and Port Security needs that will come into force from 2016.
Safe Harbour at Ledaig
The floating attenuator pontoon will protect the existing pontoon system from adverse weather and, in tur, extend the visitor season into the shoulder months beginning of May – end October. Evidence suggests over-winter berthing at Tobermory would be desirable for a number of visitors, which would initiate new commercial activity out with the season and strengthen the reputation of Tobermory as a year-round destination.
Increased Pontoon Berths
To satisfy demand, additional berths can now be added to the existing pontoon system under the umbrella of the safe harbour provided by the new breakwater and attenuator pontoon and through re-allocation of uses within the harbour. The additional new berths will generate additional economic benefits for local businesses as well as encouraging boat traffic north.
Aros Pier Land and Buildings
The THA has long term plans (see ‘Aros Waterfront Development’) to re-open the pier at Aros and provide a water taxi to and from the Park to enhance the visitor experience.
Addition of key infrastructure will enhance Tobermory’s position as a key hub-port, encouraging boats to travel further to other more remote destinations and helping to sustain recent investments placing strategic emphasis on creating’ stepping stones’ to grow the Scottish market.
Boat Slippage and Servicing
Following the relocation of the CalMac ferry traffic to the south west side of the bay at Ledaig, the north car parking area and slip will be available for other functions. Tobermory at present has no boat repair of servicing facilities. This area and infrastructure is ideal to offer out for lease with its sheltered location on the north side of the bay having the added advantage of warmth and maximum sunlight hours and being adjacent to the site of the historic boat repair yard at Port na Coite.
Agreements are already in place with the Crown Estate for the THA (post HEO) to become the local landlord for fish farm and shell-fish leases within Tobermory Bay.
Rising sea levels, storm surges and the harbour railings
The historic harbour railings are in a deteriorating condition and need replacing. The THA will work with Argyll and Bute to replace the railings with new matching rails and posts and add a 300mm-400mm sea wall to reduce storm surges and wave overtopping of the existing seawall. The new system will have to compliment the historic and iconic stone seawall.
THA Board Management and Governance
The THA are in the process of modifying the Companies Constitution to match best practice and Trust Port governance and to secure the long-term future of the Community Company.
The Acquisition of Assets
  • Subject to the granting of an HEO agreements are already in place for the THA to acquire or lease the CMAL Pier, Slip and associated Parking Area.
  • The THA are in discussions with Argyll and Bute Council to transfer the lease of the Ledaig Car Park to the new Tobermory Harbour Authority.
  • The THA is currently applying to Scottish Forestry to acquire the historic Aros Park Pier and adjacent land and buildings.
  • The THA is in the process of transferring ownership of land south of the Harbour building to allow a local developer to build a new retail food store in return for a built extension to the existing Harbour Building.


Numerous design solutions have been proposed, both by the Harbour Association and others, to address the historic problems in Tobermory. Wallace Stone Engineering, in conjunction with the THA, designed a solution in 2015 that addressed all of the problems identified for Tobermory and which would deliver benefit for the Isle of Mull and for the region. The Phase 6 infrastructure designed comprised:
  • New 95m pier with north and south side berthing faces.
  • 120m of concrete wave attenuator with rise and fall bridge.
  • 45m straight slipway with a 1/10 gradient, protected by fixed breakwater.
  • 15m inter-tidal boat servicing area with a sludge receptor to protect the marine environment.
  • 10m floating pontoon berth with 2 x 24m pedestrian access bridges.
  • 30 new pontoon berths and reallocation of existing berthing to free up extra berthing.
As funding has not been available to finance this large scale infrastructure project, a reduced scope option is now being pursued and will be presented to funders in the near future.



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