THE broken vehicle linkspan at Gourock ferry terminal will finally be repaired by the end of the year at a cost of £2.5m.

Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) - the Scottish Government-owned company responsible for vessels and harbours in the west of Scotland - has announced it is progressing a project to 'extend the life' of the vital piece of port infrastructure.

It closed the pierhead gangway last September because of ongoing problems with the hydraulic lifting cylinders, which were later said to be beyond repair.

The work will involve repairs to the linkspan support structures and replacement of the steel deck.

Once complete, the linkspan will be able to carry vehicles - meaning Gourock can once again be used as a port of relief for the Rothesay and Arran ferries during stormy weather.

Plans to appoint an engineering firm to carry out the work are now under way by CMAL and it is hoped the work will be complete in late 2020.

Ramsay Muirhead, director of port Infrastructure and planning at CMAL, said: “This is welcome news for ferry users.

"The age of the linkspan at Gourock has been causing operational issues for several months and we know it has created significant inconvenience.

“Working with a specialist consultant engineering firm, we have identified a solution that will return normal vehicle-carrying capacity.

"It means Gourock will be available as an alternative mainland port for vehicle services.

“This is a significant investment in life-extending measures to improve the resilience of the linkspan until a new one is built as part of the terminal redevelopment.”

Bosses at CalMac have also welcomed news that the work will be carried out over the coming months, enabling the port to once again play a full part on the Clyde network.

Their director of operations, Robert Morrison, said: “We welcome CMAL’s commitment to investing in Gourock linkspan to enable vehicles to use it again.

"It will be a welcome development for the communities of Bute and Arran, who rely on it as an alternative mainland port.”

Bosses say the project will require temporary full linkspan closure for a short period, most likely in autumn.

They added that further details would be shared following the appointment of an engineer to finalise the programme and carry out the work.