Developers are seeking the go ahead to turn a former oil fabrication yard in the Highlands into a manufacturing “super-hub” for renewables – delivering a second jobs boom for the site.
The Port of Ardersier has just submitted plans to Highland Council, Marine Scotland and Transport Scotland to transform the site – which lies between Inverness and Nairn – into a major European manufacturing port for the offshore wind industry.
The location was once the scene of massive engineering activity as the McDermott Fabrication Yard, where thousands of workers were involved in building oil rigs and platforms in the 1970s and 1980s.
With 340 acres of vacant land and a deepwater quay, the purpose-built yard on the Moray Firth is thought to be ideally placed to take a slice of the estimated £70-80 billion UK offshore wind construction market. If approved, then consents would permit major dredging later this year, which could enable the port to be open for business in early 2014.
The £4.5bn Moray offshore wind farm, currently being developed jointly by EDP Renewables and Repsol Nuevas Energias UK, could bring up to 3,000 jobs to the region.
Port of Ardersier chief executive Captain Stephen Gobbi said: “There are few other locations in the UK, or indeed Europe, which can offer this quality and quantity of vacant land, a 1,000-metre deep-water quay and proximity to the major offshore wind development zones in the North Sea. We hope our application will be viewed positively.”
The former McDermott yard was built on land reclaimed from the foreshore in the 1970s for the fabrication and construction of North Sea oil and gas platforms.
At its height, the yard employed 4,500 people. It closed in 2002 and the site was bought for the development of 3,000 houses and a marina, which never went ahead.
Three years ago Ardersier was included in Scotland’s National Renewables Infrastructure Plan as one of 11 possible manufacturing sites for the offshore green energy industry.