CAMPAIGNERS who are fighting to secure a future for Helensburgh's pier have hit out at the findings of an expert report on the structure.

A report by surveyors Stantec UK and Mott McDonald, commissioned by Argyll and Bute Council, said that a berthing facility at the pier would not be commercially viable.

The report's authors concluded the idea of such a facility being used for a Clyde waterbus, or for a cross-river ferry from Greenock, was a long-term aspiration at best - and said a ferry link between Helensburgh and HM Naval Base Clyde was not a realistic prospect after the Ministry of Defence poured cold water on the possibility.

But business and area leaders with the Helensburgh Pier Extension Project (HPEP) have insisted they're going to push ahead with their vision of a pontoon extension to encourage small vessels and river traffic to visit Helensburgh.

In May we reported that Helensburgh Community Council (HCC) had teamed up with Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority to pitch a reborn pier as a key component of the area's future.

Destination Helensburgh, the independent visitor information service for the town, was also speaking to cruise operators about bringing them directly to the town or across the river from Greenock.

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But last week, a report concluded it would cost up to £3 million to get the pier, which is owned by Argyll and Bute Council, back into working order - and that ongoing running costs would mean little or no prospect of a berthing facility being "revenue neutral".

A key council committee will consider that report this week - and a recommendation that the authority open talks over a community asset transfer of the pier.


The pier was removed earlier this year from a council bid for £20 million in 'levelling up' funding from the UK Government.

Argyll and Bute's Provost Maurice Corry, who is involved with the Helensburgh Pier Extension Project (HPEP), told the Advertiser the group is "proceeding" under the auspices of HCC.

Cllr Corry, who lives in Helensburgh, said: "The public have had access to the financial feasibility report since the first week of October - the content of which did not come as a surprise given the specific singularity under which the report remit was issued.

"The report contains a considerable amount of useful information based on factual evidence, provided by several entities, that can be, and is being, used to enhance and deliver the pier extension project.

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"The general consensus is that Helensburgh and surrounding district would benefit financially by having the pier back in use, not in its former design and construction, but extending the pier into deeper water, thus allowing larger vessels to dock safely.

"Recreational and sporting use would be greatly enhanced, with several private companies and official operators looking into utilising the facility.

"HPEP (HCC) is working closely with Argyll and Bute Council, along with the UK Government, sporting bodies, Destination Helensburgh and local businesses with a view to commencing the first stage of the development in the very near future.

"Project funding is currently being secured, with financial commitments already in place.

"It is the intention to release details of the plans into the public domain once all remaining obstacles, of which there are few, are alleviated."

Anne Foy, from Destination Helensburgh, said: "Destination Helensburgh is working as part of the Helensburgh Pier Extension Project sub-group of HCC to develop a proposal to regenerate the pier.

"Whilst the Stantec Report looked primarily at direct revenue from pier operations, we believe there is a case for regeneration based on the possible additional revenue and added community benefit to the town that could be generated from an operating pier, such as attracting cruise and marine visitors, developing events, and leveraging sporting, leisure and tourism opportunities."

Helensburgh councillor Fiona Howard acknowledge the report to the council about the pier was a "major blow" and a missed opportunity.

She said: "There was a point a few years ago when there was a chance of making a decision to do work on the pier which, if taken, would have made a world of difference now.

"But although this feels like a finality and that the pier has reached the end of its life I actually think all might not yet be lost.

"The Stantec report, all 229 (or thereabouts) pages of it, does not completely condemn the pier itself, and in fact, recommends doing some work on it, it just suggests that there is not a financially viable solution as things stand. But things change and I hope that the tide may turn for the pier."