The Port of Ardersier has been given the full backing of Highland Council for plans to turn the former oil fabrication yard on the Moray Firth into a manufacturing ‘super-hub’ for offshore wind – a decision which will be keenly noted by other Scot ports and harbour authorities keen to climb aboard the new offshore wind goldrush.
The council has granted onshore planning consent – giving a thumbs-up to ambitious plans to transform the 160 hectare (400 acres) vacant site into a manufacturing, assembly and operations and maintenance base for new offshore wind fields off Scotland’s east coast.
With a large vacant site and a 1km deep water quay, the purpose-built yard – located 15 miles east of Inverness – is ideally placed to take a slice of the estimated £70-80 billion UK offshore wind construction market.
The site owners are now awaiting the green light from the government and its regulators Marine Scotland and Transport Scotland for the offshore elements of the site. It is anticipated these consents – a marine licence and a harbour revision order – could be in place in the coming weeks, paving the way for a potential jobs boom for the Highlands.
Captain Stephen Gobbi, Port of Ardersier Chief Executive, said: “Once all consents are in place we will be able to undertake major dredging which could enable the port to be open for business this year.
“There are few other deep water ports in the UK, or indeed Europe, which offer this quality and quantity of vacant land, a 1000 metre deep water quay and proximity to the major offshore wind development zones in the North Sea.
“We are continuing to work closely with Transport Scotland and Marine Scotland to ensure we secure the harbour revision order and marine licence which will unlock the incredible potential of this unique site.”
Calum Davidson, Director of Energy, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “A year ago we signed a memorandum of understanding with the Port of Ardersier, offering our support for the development of the site, and to quickly achieve on-shore planning and marine consenting. I am delighted that we are well down that road. It’s clear the port has the potential to become a major European energy manufacturing and assembly facility and HIE looks forward working alongside the Port of Ardersier in pursuit of that goal.”