‘Travesty’ if Orkney decommissioning base delayed any longer

Oil contamination exists on the Lyness site, which used to be a Royal Navy fuel depot.
Lyness, on Hoy, the site of a proposed decommissioning base.

An Orkney councillor has said it would be a travesty if Orkney missed out on North Sea decommissioning work.

James Stockan, Orkney Islands Councillor for Stromness and South Isles, said any further delay to the North Sea decommissioning base planned for the island of Hoy would be detrimental to the area.

Mr Stockan also said hold ups would dent the north of Scotland’s hopes of becoming a decommissioning centre.

A spokesman for the DSM Demolition, the company behind the project, said the firm was on track to submit a plan application in the coming weeks.

Plans for the base were announced in August 2016, but a number of issues have led to delays with planning applications and the start of development work.

Internal restructuring within Birmingham-based DSM, coupled with concerns about contamination of the former Ministry of Defence site, have contributed to the hold up.

Mr Stockan’s concerns centre on the time delay which is affecting the Lyness project and Scotland’s ability to encourage decommissioning work as a whole.

He said: “As far as I’m concerned, the question is: How much of this work can the UK capture? Because if we can’t make the place as ready here [as elsewhere], the jobs and the opportunity will go to another country.

“I would say that it’s important for Scotland to identify its best opportunities and push them forward. We’re hoping we’re going to see a planning application in the next few months coming through the council. It would be a travesty if [Lyness] wasn’t used for decommissioning.”

Lyness was identified as an ideal location because of its existing harbour and safe, deepwater anchorage, combined with access to oil and gas fields through Scapa Flow.

A site of great historical significance, Scapa Flow has been used in travel, trade and as a port during both World Wars.

DSM spokesman Graham Crowe said: “I can fully understand his concerns. I think the delay has been caused by a variety of factors, some of which were in our control and some of which were not.

“They’ve now all been dealt with and we are going to be submitting and progressing our planning application within the next, probably, four to six weeks.”

Mr Crowe said the delay would not affect the development or number of jobs the project was likely to bring.

He also responded to Mr Stockan’s concerns that further hold ups may result in decommissioning work going elsewhere.

Mr Crowe said: “We’re always competing against the deep water ports of Norway, which no one in Scotland, in fact the UK, can deal with.

“So we have to be imaginative in the way we deal with those problems.

“There’s no doubt that Lyness has some of the best natural features to progress that.

“The opportunity is there to use a highly skilled island workforce.”