Raasay's new ferry terminal opened

New pier at Raasay. Pic: Iain MacDonald/BBC The new pier at Churchton Bay on Raasay

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A new £12m ferry terminal for the isle of Raasay off Skye has been officially opened.

Built in Churchton Bay, it replaces a slipway 1.5miles (2.5km) away at Suisnish built at the start of the 20th Century and upgraded in the 1970s.

The new terminal serves a Caledonian MacBrayne car ferry that sails between Sconser on Skye and Raasay.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said it offered islanders and visitors "first class facilities".

Originally built to aid the transportation of iron ore from Raasay, the former slipway was in a poor state of repair.

Highland Council led the new terminal project and the construction work was contracted to Balfour Beatty.

Visiting Raasay, Mr Stevenson said: "It is a vital boost for the area and in these challenging times will make a valuable contribution to both the local and national economy."

John Laing, chairman of Highland Council's transport, environmental and community services committee, said the route between the islands was a lifeline link.

Donald Oliphant, chairman of Raasay Community Council, added: "The Raasay community is delighted with our new pier, which is a real lifeline service for our fragile island community."

The official opening follows the start of rebuilding historic Raasay House which was gutted by fire during renovation work last January.

The former stately home had been run as an activity centre since 1984 and will be restored so it can be used for that purpose again.

The sprawling 258-year-old mansion once belonged to the Clan MacLeod. The rebuild is scheduled to finish in 2012.

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