Experts plan floating container port for Orkney Islands

Maritime experts from Edinburgh Napier University’s Transport Research Institute (TRI) have unveiled a plan to develop a floating container port for Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands.

They estimate that the floating hub, which consists of a large storage vessel fitted with cranes, could nearly double the current £16bn value of Scotland’s exports of manufactured goods.

Prof Alf Baird, a maritime business expert, led the university’s involvement in the European Union-funded project in collaboration with German crane manufacturer Gottwald Port Technology.

He said: ’The hub could handle goods for perhaps more than 20 countries in Europe, which would then be transhipped via the new terminal. Most of Europe’s seafood, for example, is produced nearby in Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway, Russia and Greenland — traffic that could be consolidated in Scotland into refrigerated containers for distribution worldwide via the container hub.’

The Scottish government has identified the economic importance of developing a container transhipment terminal at Scapa Flow, whose location at the crossroads between the North Sea and Atlantic ocean is seen as ideal for the venture.

At around €40m (£35m), the proposed floating port — designated the Floating Container Storage and Transhipment Terminal or FCSTT — would cost around €80m less to build than a conventional land-based port offering similar capacity.

’This is a low-cost solution that helps make the terminal easier to develop,’ said Baird, who has already had interest from Latin America, the US and Norway in the TRI proposal.

’It is a design concept that could also be employed in many other parts of the world as an alternative to high-cost concrete terminals, in turn minimising environmental impacts in sensitive coastal areas,’ he added.