The plans to build a 400-acre wind turbine construction hub at a former oil yard close to Inverness are now a stage nearer to being realised, after the planning application was approved by the Scottish government.
It gave the go-ahead for the transformation of the yard, which is in the Port of Ardersier, into an offshore base for the construction of wind turbines, with the owners of the port now holding real hopes that it will be ready for business by 2015.
The port’s chief executive, Captain Steve Gobbi, stated that securing planning approval represented a red letter day, as it would now be able to commence work on the site and dredging, with the aim of being able to support wind projects by the following year.
The location of the port, on the coast of the North Sea, means that it has close access to several Scottish Territorial Waters and Round 3 wind farms, such as the Beatrice and Moray sites, which it could do significant business with.
There are also several UK oil suppliers that stock the lubricants needed to run the turbines, such as Mobil SHC Gear 220, ensuring that many of the elements needed for the success of wind-turbine manufacturing in the area are already in place.
However, the Ardersier scheme also faces stiff competition from other ports in Scotland that have focused their attentions on the growing market for offshore renewables, including Nigg, Cromarty and Kishorn, all of which have reached agreements for wind hubs to be built.