Tay '˜river taxis' a step closer as pontoon work begins

Construction work is under way on '˜Venice-style' pontoons along the banks of the River Tay which could lead to a river taxi service operating between Perth and Dundee, boosting tourism.

A water taxi in Venice approaches the Rialto Bridge. Picture: Contributed

The pontoons, proposed for sites at Willowgate under the Friarton Bridge outside Perth and the city’s Fergusson Gallery, would allow the berthing of small river taxis, boats and canoes. The £600,000 project, the first carried out as part of the Perth City Plan, is part of an ambitious initiative to attract more tourists to the area and could provide a link-up with the new V&A being constructed at the waterfront in Dundee.

The council said plans to operate a river service from Perth to Willowgate and Dundee are being developed.

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The installation of both pontoons, by award-winning marine specialists Gael Force, is expected to be completed by mid-November. They will then be tested before being removed for the winter.

Partners Tay and Earn Trust and Perth and Kinross Council said their project aims to “address the lack of accessible infrastructure to the river”.

The authority said further proposals on the tourism potential of the River Tay were being explored as part of the Tay Cities Deal.

Welcoming the new enterprise, John Kellas, the council’s convener of enterprise and infrastructure said: “The River Tay is a truly fantastic natural resource which flows through the heart of the city.

“This is an important stage to strengthen regional tourism by linking with other planned investment in transport infrastructure, water-based sports, paths and tourist and cultural facilities and attractions, creating additional employment and training opportunities.”

David Clarke, chairman of the Tay and Earn Trust said: “The river Tay is an important and unique asset for Perth City and developing the infrastructure along the inner Tay to improve access and attract visitors to the area is vital.”

The council received 15 letters of objection to the pontoons, raising concerns about the impact on pleasure sailing on the Tay, and the functionality of Perth Harbour.

Funding was secured through the coastal communities fund administered by the Big Lottery Fund.