Ardersier hub 'weeks' from approval

Scotland’s Port of Ardersier will within “the coming weeks” secure its final consents to carry out its plan to transform into an offshore wind manufacturing “super-hub”, claims chief executive Steve Gobbi.

The consents are overdue, having initially been slated for delivery by last autumn.

Among Ardersier’s strongest claims to becoming such an offshore wind hub is its proximity to the Moray Firth and Beatrice projects, which were today consented by the Scottish government.

Formerly known as the McDermott yard, the brownfield site now at Ardersier was built on reclaimed land along Scotland’s Moray Firth during the 1970s, and was a significant fabrication yard during the North Sea oil boom.

Operational for nearly three decades, and with 4,500 employees at its peak, the yard was closed in 2001.

Three years later the Whiteness Property Company was established in 2004 to redevelop the site for residential housing, but was renamed the Port of Ardersier two years ago with an eye towards Scotland's unfolding renewables prize.

In early 2013 Scotland’s Highlands and Islands Enterprise – an economic development agency – signed an agreement to help the port carve out a role in the UK offshore wind sector.

This February the Highlands Council approved the port’s plan to transform into an offshore wind manufacturing hub, but it still requires the approval of two other agencies – Marine Scotland and Transport Scotland.

The Port of Ardersier’s current consents relate exclusively to oil and gas.

“Places like the Port of Ardersier, which were purpose-built in the 1970s for the first oil boom, are now ideally placed to offer the acres of space and deepwater quays these offshore wind farms will require,” says Gobbi.

“Offshore wind could generate thousands of new jobs in the Highlands, with ports as the key.”

Ardersier is competing with a number of other Scottish ports for offshore wind fabrication work, including Leith, Dundee, Nigg and Methil.