This is an ambitious and exciting community-led development which can be the catalyst for sustainable economic growth in an area of Scotland which has suffered from chronic under investment.
The community of Staffin, in every public consultation held over the last three decades, has consistently pinpointed the regeneration of the harbour as its main priority time and time again.
At present, there is no secure boat storage, a lack of shelter to protect vessels coming in and out of the pier, limited opportunities for berthing and no basic amenities such as a water, fuel or power supply. There were also major issues with the access road.
This is a game changer for Staffin and north Skye, with a new community-owned harbour which will be strategically placed to attract boats sailing north and south in an area of the West Highlands and Islands that lacks modern and purpose-built harbour facilities, on and off shore.
The project will involve the extensive upgrading of a breakwater with significantly improved berthing amenities and increased shelter for a range of vessels including fishing and aquaculture boats and pleasure/tourism crafts. It will also deliver:
- Seven new business units to support existing and start-up businesses
- Pontoons, showers, toilets, a harbour manager’s office, secure boat storage and parking
- Improved depth of water for vessels to increase usage, particularly for yachts
- The provision of fuel, water and electricity supply and an upgraded access road
So far in 2023 SCT has secured a stage 2 Scottish Land Fund grant to allow it to purchase the current harbour area from public agencies, launched a pilot boat trips business in order to generate income and secured all the planning permissions required for the project. More details: https://skyeecomuseum.com/late...
The increased activity that will be achieved through the different aspects of the harbour development will help our community's sustainability and ensure we have a healthy school roll in the future. Staffin’s population only increased by 1.8% between 2001 and 2019; compared with 9.2% in Skye & Lochalsh.
The new Staffin Harbour will be aiming to serve the needs of:
- The local community
- Fishing boats/aquaculture
- Marine tourism – sailing boats, yachts etc
The development received a major boost in February 2020 when it was awarded a £969,000 grant from the Scottish Government's Regeneration Capital Grant Fund. In December 2021, the government's Fisheries Harbours Assistance awarded £900,000. This has helped fund the project's Enabling Works including a major upgrade of the access road https://skyeecomuseum.com/late... and will allow the delivery of electrical and water connections.
SCT is working hard to secure the rest of the capital funding required in what is a challenging economic climate. SCT has all three of the on-shore planning permissions required approved by Highland Council, and the off shore licence from Marne Scotland.
Our community has thrown their weight behind this project and a steering group made up of local residents and harbour users meets regularly to progress this long-awaited development. The membership currently includes:
Donnie and Ally MacDonald, Aird; Charlie Elder, Brogaig; Lachie Gillies, Glasphein; Calum MacDonald, Stenscholl; Ally Young, Clachan; Ally Corrigal, Garafad; Donald MacDonald, Glasphein; Jock Gordon, Garafad; Alex MacInnes, Kishorn; Euan MacArthur, Peiness.
SCT is also supported by a range of stakeholders including:
- our four Highland councillors for the Eilean a' Cheo ward
- MSP Kate Forbes
- MP Ian Blackford
- Highlands and Islands Enterprise
- Kilmuir Estate (Scottish Ministers)
- Highland Council
- Crown Estate
- Community Land Scotland
- Development Trusts Association for Scotland
History of the Staffin Slipway & Harbour
"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 Staffin Community's Trust’s flagship capital 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.