Dunstaffnage Marina

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Dunstaffnage Marina's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Dunstaffnage Marina is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Neil McLauchlan, CEO
The marina from above
Dunstaffnage Marina was established in 1997 in order to
create a quality marina which would be able to service
the western seaboard. It is located just three miles north
of Oban and sits in a picturesque sheltered bay, overlooked
by Dunstaffnage Castle, a 12th-century stronghold. The bay
had been used by Viking longships since the early part of the
9th century, where it provided an excellent holding ground for
anchorage and shelter from most of the prevailing winds.
The mid-1500s saw the Lords of Isles use this bay as a stopping-off point on their
route to the south of France to trade high-quality swords and weapons in exchange
for good red wine. The meaning of Dunstaffnage in Gaelic is “the castle in the bay
of masts”, and with up to 50 long ships anchored in the bay, there is no surprise as
to how it got its name. Today, however, the scene is somewhat more peaceful.
Marina history
We – myself, CEO Neil McLauchlan, and chairman Ewan Bell – had a vision in
the 1990s. The bay was so unusual in that it was, and still is, a geographically
ideal natural location to provide a unique experience for yachtsmen through its
development as a marina. To that end, the 21st-century marina was built; it now
boasts some 250 berths, a small hotel with a restaurant and bistro, an engineering
department, a well-stocked chandlery, and a successful yacht brokerage. Many
“local” subcontractors use the marina as a platform to work from, too.
The market, like all businesses, moves and changes. Over the last 20 years, it has
seen a huge expansion into tourism in Scotland, particularly the hospitality industry,
»CEO: Neil McLauchlan
»Chairman: Ewan Bell
»Established in 1997
»Based in Dunstaffnage, Oban
»Services: Marina
»No. of employees: 24
»No. of clients: 400
»Around 250 berths for yachts
across the marina
»Exhibited at London and
Southampton boat shows
»Accredited in Advanced
Marina Management (Neil
»Accredited in Intermediate
Marina Management
Dunstaffnage Marina
»2002: Work begins on a 5,000-square-foot workshop.
»2004: New office, reception and shower block built.
»2008: Awarded ISO 9001, one of the first marinas in the UK to
receive it.
»2010: Dunstaffnage joins the Five Gold Anchor scheme and Super
Yacht UK.
»2011: All company debt cleared.
»2016: Finalist for Best Marina in Scotland at Outdoor and Leisure
»2017: Completed 350-metre concrete super yacht pontoon.
where businesses across the board
have flourished – from hotels and bed
and breakfasts on the Isle of Skye,
where guest occupancy rates match
those of Edinburgh, to small landmarks
on the North Coast 500 route over
Scotland. Cutting a small but healthy
piece of this pie is the yachting market,
where some of the best sailing in the
world can be found, specifically on
the west coast. The vast, picturesque
coastline is dotted with islands of
all shapes and sizes; it is a truly
magnificent sight.
With that as the background, you can
start to imagine why most, if not all,
its customers come with their boats to
experience it.
Latest project
The business is continuously adapting
to its competition and certain criteria
laid out by global bodies like the Yacht
Harbour Association, while ensuring
services provided are first-class. The last
18 months has been a particularly busy
period for all the staff and customers
based at the marina. The reason for
this is that it has implemented some
significant changes and updates to
the marina to freshen up and keep
abreast with the ever-changing ways of
operating the Five Gold Anchormarina.
The biggest project to date was the
installation of a 184-metre concrete
pontoon facility with a minimum depth
of seven-and-a-half metres of water at
low tide. Each concrete pontoon is four
metres wide and is equipped with water
delivery and adequate power sockets
for boats of over 25 metres. They were
manufactured on site by Gael Force,
a Scottish-based marine engineering
company, and Dutch contracting
company Orsta Marina Systems. The
overall structure is close to 300 tonnes
of concrete secured by massive chains
and anchors. There are hundreds of
metres of electric cabling and water
delivery pipes. Coupled with this is the
new seaward entrance andfairway.
There really was only one main
objective behind the recent expansion
to the marina: to attract and
accommodate large vessels of over 20
metres. Specifically, super yachts that
explore the local area along with the
growing number of commercial vessels
that operate nearby too. These craft
range from super yachts from Palma
and beyond to local tugs operating
out of Yeoman Glensanda Quarry and
vessels from Scottish transport group
Ferguson Shipping. The vast length
of the concrete pontoon enables
vessels of 150 feet or more to stay
at the marina and enjoy its facilities.
The main engineering
The business is
adapting to its
Highlighting best practice
Theirmarket research has seen an
increase in super yachts from the UK
and, in particular, abroad visiting the
Apart from possessing some of the best
sailing grounds in the world, according
to official studies, the west of Scotland
offers an exciting opportunity for these
large vessels to enjoy the countryside
and sailing routes without some of the
security issues that exist in other parts
of theworld.
Our marina has become a remarkable
success story, and has attracted sailing
yachts from all around the world.
The summer of 2016 was our first
season using the new pontoon facility
and, without any real marketing,
Dunstaffnage welcomed
Ebb Tide
, a
27m Royal Huisman sailing yacht, and
Flyer II
, a 20m Swan (winner of the
Whitbread Cup in 1981-82). Sadly,
this hard work has been affected by
the local council’s “innovative” idea
to open a new marina only three miles
away – providing almost identical
features while being subsidised and
operated at uneconomical rates.
Brexit, marine business and
the future
The effect of Brexit on our industry
was more unclear for the country than
the marine industry. In the summer of
2016, marine businesses supposedly
shared a pessimistic view for the future
as the BMF reported from their own
analysis. On the back of those findings,
some 12 months later, they reportedly
saw a U-turn in confidence.
Rising numbers of customers, especially
foreign nationals making use of the
drop in the pound, was a sure-enough
reason to keep batting on in the same
direction we had before. Ensuring the
team at the marina continued to provide
quality at all levels to the customers
that visited was key. While that was
happening in the background, our
brokerage saw for a brief period that
UK-based customers were hesitating on
upgrading their boat purchases.
Fast forward nearly two years, and
trade is steady, although market share
for marinas could be shrinking due to
new development being on the rise.
Despite that, employment numbers
at Dunstaffnage, including seasonal
workers, are at their highest since
records began.
Exhibiting at both the London and
Southampton boat shows, we decided
to look beyond UK waters to the
2016 Monaco yacht show. This was
an opportunity to conduct some
market research, along with the future
prospect of exhibiting. Confidence
among fellow industry colleagues
trading in international marine markets
was high, and spirits remain quietly
confident for the forthcomingyear.
Our marina
has become a
success story,
and has
sailing yachts
from all
around the
berthed on the
new SY facility
Super yacht
, a
44-metre Vitters

This article was sponsored by Dunstaffnage Marina. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy