ORKNEY Harbours today officially launched an ambitious £230 million infrastructure vision that would place Orkney at the forefront of the drive for a cleaner, greener future.
The Orkney Harbours Masterplan Phase 1 considers five main locations on the Orkney mainland. Proposals focus on harbour infrastructure enhancements over a 20-year period that will generate jobs, additional revenue and attract new business. It represents the first step in a review of Orkney Harbour Authority-owned infrastructure to create a base for innovation and secure the long-term future for the community.
The Masterplan embraces decarbonisation and transition away from fossil fuels. The infrastructure proposals have been designed to enable Orkney to manage this transition while continuing to generate social and economic benefit from ongoing oil and gas activity.
An Outline Business Case commissioned by Orkney Marine Services found that the proposals will have a transformational impact on Orkney’s economy and society, with as many as 115 new jobs created. In addition, there will be a substantial number of job opportunities during the construction phase.
Harbour users and key stakeholders were consulted from the outset to help gain an understanding the issues, constraints and opportunities associated with harbour infrastructure around Orkney through workshops and interviews. The range of stakeholders includes local communities, harbour users, potential funders and environmental bodies such as Scottish Natural Heritage.
Phase 1 focuses on the Scapa Deep Water Quay; Hatston Pier; Kirkwall Pier; Scapa Pier; and Stromness. Phase 2 will ultimately develop the Islands’ smaller harbours and piers across the archipelago. Orkney Islands Council, the Statutory Harbour Authority, has overall responsibility for the project.
Central to the project is the unique geographical advantage of Scapa Flow, the largest natural deep-water harbour in the northern hemisphere, as the potential setting for internationally significant marine logistics to serve the new and emerging sectors including low carbon fuel transition and offshore wind developments.
Scapa Deep Water Quay is seen as the optimal location for construction and Operations & Maintenance activities associated with offshore wind, as well as for a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) storage and distribution hub. At the same time this infrastructure has the capability to accommodate semi-submersible platforms of all types, giving Orkney a unique UK competitive edge within the existing oil and gas market. The project team believes it could be delivered by 2025. Other proposals, such as Hatston and Kirkwall could take three or four years to deliver.
Orkney Islands Council leader James Stockan said: “Our vision is to build a truly sustainable business that is a core economic asset for Orkney, but also a first phase in enabling a scale of investment and logistical capability for the UK which will be of international significance.
“Prime Minister Boris Johnson clearly welcomed our ambition and Orkney’s potential during his recent visit to our islands. Describing as a ‘fantastic idea’ our vision for Orkney as a low-carbon, zero-emissions hub of innovation, with Scapa Flow at its heart.
“We believe the time is right to maximise the incredible natural assets and geography of Scapa Flow and Orkney to ensure a long-term sustainable future for our communities. We are open for business now and ready to work with potential investors and operators to develop the significant strategic and international opportunities Scapa Flow offers.
“The Scapa Deep Water Quay proposal has been included in the Islands Deal list of projects that has received funding commitment from the Scottish and UK governments, and we are continuing to ensure that the funding earmarked for this will be secured.”
Graham Sinclair, Chairman of the council’s Development and Infrastructure Committee and Harbour Sub Committee, said: “The Masterplan seeks to build on the decades of marine expertise and activity across Orkney and create new facilities which will consolidate Orkney’s position on the maritime map for the 21st century.”
James Buck, Harbour Master, said: “Tackling decarbonisation is the strand that binds these proposals together providing infrastructure and knowledge for renewable energy developments around our waters will allow us to reach climate change targets. We will also look at the potential for net environmental gain through habitat reinstatement and enhancement.”