PROPOSALS for major works at Ardrossan Harbour have been given the green light – a year on from the successful campaign to retain the Arran ferry route at the town’s port.

Minister for Transport and the Islands Humza Yousaf announced the new upgrade this week.

But neither Transport Scotland nor North Ayrshire Council are able to give an estimate of how much the works will cost at this stage as the final detailed design has not yet been drawn up.

The Ardrossan Harbour Taskforce has identified its preferred design option for the harbour upgrade, which will improve the facility’s operations and resilience.

This will see the current berth at the harbour realigned, a new linkspan installed, a new terminal building and a number of other enhancements. The next steps will include the detailed design of the facility to be considered by the Taskforce.

Mr Yousaf said: “This is excellent news and I thank all the organisations that make up the Taskforce for their efforts.

“The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that the Arran ferry service is fit for the future. These plans will help bring greater resilience and reliability to the link.

“I look forward to continuing this collaboration with the members of the Taskforce as we work together to deliver this important project.”

North Ayrshire Council Leader Joe Cullinane welcomed the decision, which comes almost exactly one year on from the decision to retain the historic Ardrossan to Brodick ferry route.

He said: “This is great news and means we can now press forward with the exciting plans for the harbour.

“Alongside our partners on the working group, we have been working hard to ensure Ardrossan Harbour is of a standard which will allow it to support to lifeline ferry services and the new vessel on the Arran route for many years to come.

“We fought a long, hard campaign to retain the Ardrossan-Brodick and the Campbeltown ferry routes so we are delighted that we can move on to the next stage.

“We fully expect that once the improvement works have been carried out at the harbour, it can be the catalyst for the wider regeneration of the Ardrossan area.

“This also comes on the back of last week’s positive news about the Ayrshire Growth Deal so we are excited about the potential of these projects to completely transform Ayrshire’s economic prospects.”

Kenneth Gibson, MSP for Cunninghame North, said: “Many constituents have asked about the plans to develop the harbour.

“So, a year on from the successful campaign to retain Ardrossan as Ayrshire’s port of choice to serve Arran I am delighted that the preferred design option, of three considered, has been agreed.

“The harbour upgrade has been deliberated over for some months, taking into account the size of the new vessel, berthing simulations etc; and the design being taken forward is a significant improvement on the ‘base’ design originally considered.

“We will now look at detailing that design so that work at the harbour can begin at the earliest possible opportunity.”

MP for Ayrshire and Arran, Patricia Gibson, added: “I am absolutely delighted that major works at Ardrossan Harbour have been given the go-ahead.

“This is excellent news.

“The campaign to save the Ardrossan to Brodick route was hard fought. I am looking forward now to important improvements to the harbour and hope that we see this starting as soon as possible.

“Ardrossan is Scotland’s busiest passenger ferry terminal and the focus now must be to ensure that it is fit for the future with increasing passenger numbers.

“This is an exciting time for Ardrossan since the harbour is so important.”