Ardersier plans offshore 'super-hub'

The Port of Ardersier has handed in plans to the Scottish authorities that aim to pave the way toward construction of a manufacturing super-hub for the European offshore wind industry.

Plans are to develop a purpose-built fabrication yard with deepwater quay on a 138-hectare (340 acre) plot of vacant land on the Moray Firth, east of Inverness.

Once approved, the harbour revision order, onshore planning and marine consents would set the wheels in motion for major dredging work later this year, with the port open for business in early 2014.

“There are few other locations in the UK, or indeed Europe, which can 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," says Port of Ardersier chief executive Stephen Gobbi.

“Ardersier complements other sites in Scotland and offers offshore wind developers and manufacturers the opportunity to site their operations close to the first-generation deep water sites in the firths of Moray, Tay and Forth."

Consents are needed from Scotland's Highland Council, Marine Scotland and Transport Scotland for the dedicated renewable energy sector development, which would sprawl over an area more than three times the size of London’s Olympic stadium complex.

Development of the Port of Ardesier would be a rebirth for the site, which as the McDermott Fabrication Yard operated through the 1980s as construction yard for oil and as platforms, employing 4,500 people in his heyday.

Estimates suggest the £4.5bn Moray offshore wind farm, currently being developed jointly by EDP Renewables and Repsol Nuevas Energias, could alone bring up to 3,000 jobs to the region.

The port was earmarked in the lead-off phase of the Scottish government’s National Renewables Infrastructure Plan as a key integrated manufacturing facility.