Former oil rig manufacturing site to become wind farm hub

Plans to build an offshore wind manufacturing hub at a former oil fabrication yard in Scotland have been submitted to the government.

The Port of Ardersier company wants to turn a 138-hectare site and deep-water quay located on the Moray Firth near Inverness into a major European manufacturing port for the offshore wind industry.

If approved by the Highland Council and the Scottish Government’s marine and transport agencies, the facility could provide turbine manufacturing capabilities for offshore wind farms planned for construction in the in the Moray, Tay and Forth firths.

‘There are few other locations in the UK, or indeed Europe, which can offer this quality and quantity of vacant land, a 1,000m deep water quay and proximity to the major offshore wind development zones in the North Sea,’ said Port of Ardersier CEO Captain Stephen Gobbi, in a statement:

‘We believe a thriving port would bring investment and skilled employment to the Highlands and to Scotland, and we are grateful for the on-going support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise in achieving that goal.’

Once approved, the harbour revision order, onshore planning and marine consents would permit major dredging later this year, which Port of Ardersier says could enable the port to be open for business in early 2014.

The former McDermott Fabrication Yard was built on reclaimed land in the 1970s for the manufacture and construction of North Sea oil and gas platforms, and at its height employed 4,500 people before it was closed in 2002.

The three wind farms due to be built in the Moray Firth could create up to 2,600 jobs in Scotland during the construction phase, according to developers EDP Renewables and Repsol Nuevas Energias UK.

The boom in UK offshore wind farms has already given new life to other industrial sites, most notably at shipyards in Belfast where Titanic-builders Harland & Wolff now generate 75 per cent of their business from the renewable energy sector.