Orkney Harbours outlines £230m masterplan to generate jobs and new business

Orkney Harbours has officially launched its “vision for a sustainable future” with a £230 million masterplan.

An aerial view of Scapa Flow in Orkney, which is a huge natural deep-water harbour.

The ambitious plans focus on harbour infrastructure enhancements over a 20-year period that will generate jobs, additional revenue and attract new business. The phase one blueprint considers five main locations on the Orkney mainland.

The proposals embrace decarbonisation and a transition away from fossil fuels, while continuing to generate “social and economic benefit” from ongoing oil and gas activity.

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Phase one focuses on the Scapa Deep Water Quay; Hatston Pier; Kirkwall Pier; Scapa Pier; and Stromness. Phase two will ultimately develop the islands’ smaller harbours and piers across the archipelago.

Orkney Islands Council, the statutory harbour authority, has overall responsibility for the project.

Central to the project is the geographical advantage of Scapa Flow, the largest natural deep-water harbour in the northern hemisphere, as the potential setting for “internationally significant” marine logistics to serve the new and emerging sectors including low carbon fuel transition and offshore wind developments.

Scapa Deep Water Quay is seen as the optimal location for construction and operations and maintenance activities associated with offshore wind, as well as for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage and distribution hub.

There would also be capacity to accommodate semi-submersible platforms of all types, giving Orkney a “competitive edge” within the existing oil and gas market.

The project team believes it could be delivered by 2025. Other proposals, such as Hatston and Kirkwall could take three or four years to deliver.

Orkney Islands Council leader James Stockan said: “Our vision is to build a truly sustainable business that is a core economic asset for Orkney, but also a first phase in enabling a scale of investment and logistical capability for the UK which will be of international significance. Prime Minister Boris Johnson clearly welcomed our ambition and Orkney’s potential during his recent visit to our islands. Describing as a ‘fantastic idea’ our vision for Orkney as a low-carbon, zero-emissions hub of innovation, with Scapa Flow at its heart.

“We believe the time is right to maximise the incredible natural assets and geography of Scapa Flow and Orkney to ensure a long-term sustainable future for our communities. We are open for business now and ready to work with potential investors and operators to develop the significant strategic and international opportunities Scapa Flow offers.

“The Scapa Deep Water Quay proposal has been included in the Islands Deal list of projects that has received funding commitment from the Scottish and UK governments, and we are continuing to ensure that the funding earmarked for this will be secured.”

Chairman of the council’s development and infrastructure committee and harbour sub-committee, Graham Sinclair, said: “The plan seeks to build on the decades of marine expertise and activity across Orkney and create new facilities which will consolidate Orkney’s position on the maritime map for the 21st century.”

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