Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change, Stewart Stevenson MSP, declared the £9 million project open for business and looked forward to further developments which will enhance the waterfront.
As a result of work to reclaim ten hectares of land from the existing shoreline at the mouth of the River Ness and extensive dredging of the river, the harbour now boasts an extended freight handling area with lay-down areas able to accommodate larger cargoes, such as wind turbines.
A new 150 metre quay wall has been designed to be used with a link span, allowing for the development of a roll-on roll-off service which is planned to start in the autumn. The new quay will also enable small cruise ships carrying up to 300 passengers to visit the port.
A container feeder service is also scheduled to begin later this year from Inverness to ports on the east coast of Scotland and England and across to the east coast of Scandinavia and the continent.
Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:
“The harbour development is a real boost for Inverness and the Highlands, particularly in these challenging economic times and I’m delighted to be here to open it.
“The Scottish Government' has invested £2.3 million of freight funding in this project to see freight transferred by sea which would otherwise have been transported by road to destinations across the UK. This will help ease congestion in the North East and reduce damage to the environment.
"The Scottish Government has the most ambitious and comprehensive climate change legislation anywhere in the world and Projects such as this will make an important contribution to achieving our world leading targets.
"I would like to see more and more Scottish businesses think about their freight priorities. If they do, we will see great benefits for our environment and remove even more traffic from Scotland's congested roads.”
Inverness Harbour Trust Chief Executive Murdo MacLeod said: “We are delighted with the work done to extend and improve the harbour area.
“The North Longman development is just the start of a larger project to transform the waterfront area with a mix of hotel, office, shops and leisure facilities. We look forward to creating a vibrant new area in this outstanding location.”
Chairman of Inverness Harbour Trust Rod Michie said: “Inverness has a long and successful history as a busy port and this new development will help the harbour go from strength to strength.
“As well as regenerating the harbour area, our new facilities will benefit the environment and help tackle congestion on our roads by moving freight from road to sea and reducing carbon emissions. It is projected that increasing the amount of container freight through the harbour could lead to a road mileage saving of 800,000 miles per year.
“These are exciting times for the port of Inverness and we continue to look ahead to the development of a busy and successful harbour at the heart of a modern, thriving city in the Highlands.”
Ships have been using Inverness Harbour for more than 2,000 years. One of Scotland’s most sheltered deep water harbours, it handles cargoes from Scandinavia, the Baltic States, the EU and the Mediterranean. Freight handled by the port currently includes fuel oils, timber, coal, grain, animal feed and salt.