The opening came almost a full year after its projected completion date of August 2020, which was held back due to the Covid-19 pandemic and other issues including adverse weather and ground conditions.
Devon-based marine and civil engineering firm, Teignmouth Maritime Services, built the new pier to replace the previous structure at the site [pictured], which was deemed unsafe and restricted from public access back in December 2016.
The construction of the new pier was initially priced at £3 million, with demolition works for the old structure beginning in September 2019. However, the unforeseen circumstances delaying works saw costs rise by an additional £500,000.
The new pier is expected to become a major hub for the local fishing industry, with mussel farming company Blueshell the first to use it.
Blueshell’s operations manager, Lindsay Laurenson, commented: “It is just so much easier to work from here, and it is a fine sheltered pier where you leave a boat overnight too.
“There will be possibly more shellfish boats based here. I think the new pier could well be the springboard for a few new things. It’s been four and half years that the pier has been here, and it is good thing that it is back.
“This is a really good pier as far as logistics goes; it is an easy place to get to and it is nearer to where the activity is taking place.”
The new pier comes with shore power and lighting, and measures around 1,100 square metres; three times larger than its predecessor. A 30-metre extension also provides further space for boats and better shelter from poor weather conditions.
The local authority’s harbour board chair, Andrea Manson, said: “This is tremendous news. There have been calls for a replacement pier since the new ferry terminal was built at Toft in 2004.
“I’m delighted that the council has been able to fund and oversee the construction of this new pier. Maritime and coastal industries are so important to our community, and they are well supported by the council’s management of several ports and harbours around Shetland.”
Councillor and chair of the local authority’s development committee, Alastair Cooper, was also pleased that the pier had been completed following a long campaign to secure funding for the project, with the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund also issuing a grant toward its construction.
Cooper said: “There was a genuine belief in the council that it wasn’t needed, yet the new pier will make industry work better and more efficiently. Toft Pier is a strategically important site for shellfish landings and has potential to support tidal energy projects too.
“I’m confident that this pier will help to create and sustain a diversified economy in the North Mainland.”