Campaigners call for Clydeport to be nationalised by the Scottish Government

Campaigners want to see Peel Ports revoked as the harbour authority on the River Clyde

Campaigners are calling for Clydeport to be nationalised in a bid to bring all the ports and harbours on the River Clyde into public ownership.

Peel Ports Group owns Clydeport and acts as the harbour authority on the river, but local campaigners say the group has made a “complete shambles” of one of Scotland’s biggest assets.

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They want to see Peel Ports revoked as the harbour authority and for a municipal port authority to be established in its place. The group is also calling for a compulsory purchase order to be issued for Inchgreen Dry Dock, saying it has been left to lie empty.

Inchgreen Dry Dock. Image: Ant Clausen Photography.Inchgreen Dry Dock. Image: Ant Clausen Photography.
Inchgreen Dry Dock. Image: Ant Clausen Photography.

Robert Buirds, who is leading the campaign, says workers are “fed up” and “scunnered” with how the port is being run.

He said: “For over 20 years they have run it down and destroyed it. They are strangling investment if it doesn’t suit their business needs and they seem to be stopping and blocking any marine development in Inverclyde.

“The damage Peel Ports is doing to the marine industry and the Clyde is preventing industrial expansion in Inverclyde and blocking any sort of progress.”

Mr Buirds, who worked at the shipyard and in the offshore industry for 20 years, says people living in one of Scotland’s most deprived areas shouldn’t be “fighting for jobs we know we can do”.

He added: “It is an absolute scandal.”

The group has now submitted a petition to the Scottish Parliament, calling on the Government to use both the Harbours Act 1964 and the Marine Navigation Act 2013 to revoke Peel Ports as the harbour authority for the River Clyde. More than 1,100 people have signed the petition.

They also want to see Inchgreen Dry Dock bought by the Government, saying it could be used to service and maintain the CalMac ferry fleet.

In 2021 Peel Ports leased Inchgreen to Atlas Decommissioning, but campaigners say the jobs that were promised have never materialised.

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These calls come as the Government comes under fierce criticism for its handling of Ferguson Marine shipyard only a few miles away in Port Glasgow, which was nationalised in 2019.

The facility is building two new CalMac ferries, but both are woefully overdue and over budget. However, Mr Buirds said he does not believe the same thing will happen if Clydeport is nationalised.

He said: “Ferguson Marine’s setbacks are not the actual shipyard’s fault, it has been planning from day one. The workers have taken all the stick for it, but they are just doing what they are told.

“It is the designers and planners who built it to fail.”

Despite the group’s pleas, the Government has written to Holyrood’s public petitions committee saying they do not plan to nationalise the yard.

In a letter, the Government said: “Scottish ministers have the powers to compulsorily acquire land under planning legislation, but that is only where the acquisition is ‘necessary for the public service’ or for planning or development purchases.

“The Scottish Government has no plans to explore compulsorily purchasing, revoking the powers of, or nationalising Clydeport.”

A spokeswoman for the Government said it worked closely with all of Scotland’s ports to make sure they were successful.

Jim McSporran, port director at Peel Ports Clydeport, said the company had invested millions and its transformation programme would create “thousands of highly-skilled jobs”.

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Mr McSporran added: “Our programme of investment into Clydeport will continue and we remain fully committed to enabling business opportunities, while creating quality jobs and supporting growth for the local and regional economies across the west coast of Scotland.”

Atlas Decommissioning has also been contacted for comment.



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