PLANS to redevelop a former oil yard which once employed 3,000 during its heyday of constructing North Sea platforms have been given the green light.
Developers are now set to expand the Kishorn fabrication yard in Wester Ross to support the marine renewable energy sector, a move they claim could create up to 2,500 jobs.
Highland councillors approved the planning application despite almost 70 objections, including from opponents concerned about the impact on the marine environment.
The proposal to create a “hub for the offshore renewable energy sector” includes refurbishing the dry dock, extending piers and reclaiming the foreshore.
Among the new work proposed for the yard is the construction of concrete bases for offshore wind turbines.
Blades and towers for turbines could also be manufactured and assembled at Kishorn.
Plans for an accommodation camp on site and a temporary holding area for completed offshore wind turbines in Loch Kishorn were also approved.
The masterplan follows two years of planning and detailed in-depth studies by various bodies, including Scottish National Heritage, SEPA and Marine Scotland.
The process was also supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Those in support of the plans said it would benefit local businesses, provide much-needed local employment, and retain young people in an area of ageing population.
The objectors claimed the plan would bring a potential for long-term detrimental environmental, economic and social impacts on the local and wider area.
Protesters claimed the scale of development was not in line with the ability of nearby settlements to absorb the demand for accommodation and transport.
They also said the scheme would have few benefits for local people with workers and supplies brought in from outside the area.
Others fear an adverse impact on tourism and tourist attractions and visitor experience, local businesses and the remoteness, wilderness, tranquillity and natural beauty of the area.
Other objections included possible adverse impact on roads, the potential for pollution and noise from quarry operations, light pollution and impact on wildlife.
The Kishorn Port is a 50/50 joint venture between Ferguson Transport (Spean Bridge) Ltd and Leiths (Scotland) Ltd.
Leiths specialises in quarrying, concrete and construction materials while Ferguson Transport is involved with port operations, shipping, stevedoring and transport.
The initial Kishorn site was developed in the 1970s by Howard Doris as a manufacturing and fabrication yard for oil platforms.
At its height 3,000 people were working at the yard.
The wet dock in Loch Kishorn has an almost unlimited depth for construction purposes at 80m (262ft).
It is the former construction site of the Ninian Central Platform, and at over 600,000 tonnes is still one of the largest man made moveable objects ever built.