Work Starts on New Light to Support Scotland’s Cruise Industry

Landing cargo at site

A new light that will enable larger cruise ships to pass safely through the Corran Narrows is being constructed by the Northern Lighthouse Board. The site is at Rubha Cuil-Cheanna, near Corran Point in the Scottish Highlands. Construction will be done over three phases between now (November 2020) and March 2021.


The lighthouse is a SPLAT (Solar Powered Lattice Aluminium Tower).

Alastair Rae, Project Lead with the Northern Lighthouse Board said:

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of larger cruise vessels who wish to include Fort William on their itinerary.  As its name suggests the Corran Narrows is a narrow channel with strong tidal streams which together present additional challenges for navigation.

“We improved the marking of this channel for northbound vessels about three years ago, with extra precision lighting on the port entry light at Corran North East. The new lighthouse will guide southbound traffic exiting Fort William and will use the same LED technology as Corran North East.

“With larger cruise ships being able to navigate safely through the Corran Narrows, we’re excited that this new lighthouse will make a big difference to the cruise industry and to Scotland’s economy as a whole.”

Almost 900 cruise voyages a year include Scottish ports on their schedule and it is estimated that each cruise generates £104,000 for the economy. Over 10% of all Scottish cruises start their journey in the Highlands and Islands.* Source Maritime UK  

As well as the engineering and technical aspects, the Northern Lighthouse Board consulted with a number of stakeholders including NatureScot, Scotland’s Nature Agency, to consider the environmental impact of the work. The site for the new lighthouse lies within the Onich and North Ballachulish Woods and Shore Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which is protected for its geology, woodland and fen features. It is also within a Special Area of Conservation, protected for the same woodland and fen features as the SSSI and lies close to the Ben Nevis and Glen Coe National Scenic Area.

Alastair commented:

“Due to the SSSI and Special Area of Conservation designation, we appointed Echoes Ecology, a specialist consultant to carry out an Ecological Impact Assessment of the site. We also consulted with SEPA, Highland Council, PDG Aviation and our appointed contractor, R S Merriman from Orkney. This level of consultation is vital to ensure we meet all of our obligations that will allow us to deliver our statutory responsibility for the safety of the mariner.”

The new lighthouse will be constructed over three phases to ensure the works are managed in a controlled way to protect the environment and ecology.

The construction and fabrication work for the new lighthouse is being carried out by Scottish businesses.  RS Merriman from Orkney is the appointed Principal Contractor. JGC Engineering & Technical Services from Thurso have been involved with fabricating the structure and manufacturing the electrical control cabinets and Hepburn Fabrication from Edinburgh made the lantern pedestals and solar panel framework.




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