NORTH-EAST harbour bosses are aiming to cash in on a huge windfarm project expected to create about 3,000 jobs.
Hundreds of turbines are being planned for a site covering more than 100squaremiles in the Outer Moray Firth.
The £4.5billion scheme is the largest of its kind to reach the planning stage and developers claim it would be able to power 1million homes.
Last night, the project was hailed a massive opportunity for Fraserburgh.
Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd (Morl) has applied to the Scottish Government to instal turbines at three sites known as Telford, Stevenson and MacColl.
The first of the 670ft towers would be built about 14 miles off the coast of Caithness.
Underground cables would transport the power to shore at Fraserburgh, and then on to Peterhead Power Station.
Yesterday, project leaders arrived at Fraserburgh as part of an ongoing public consultation exercise.
They held talks with port chiefs about the potential economic benefits for the area.
As many as 2,600 jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase, with a further 400 posts available once the turbines are in place.
Work will involve regular maintenance of the masts.
There is expected to be a spin-off boost for local hotels, shops and other businesses.
Fraserburgh harbour superintendent John Murison said last night: “This is one of the most important opportunities for Fraserburgh in a long time.
“This would be a way of bringing meaningful employment back into the town.
“We are 100% committed to getting a share of this. It may be early days, but it’s vital that we get involved sooner rather than later.”
He said yesterday’s talks with developers had been “very positive”.
Company spokesman Craig Milroy said the project offered major economic benefits to communities along the north-east coast.
“We have carried out about 120 hours of consultation with the public so far and the main thing we are being asked about is the economic impact on the area, which is unheard of for a renewables project like this,” he said.
“People want to know what type of economic opportunities this will bring and what our timescale is.
“We are not at the stage where we can say which towns and harbours will be involved in the development and to what extent. It may be that some ports are better suited for one kind of work and another harbour is better for something else.
“That’s something we will continue to discuss with the communities. Members of the fishing industry that we have spoken to so far have been very supportive.”
Fraserburgh councillor Ian Tait said last night: “I am absolutely sure that the harbour commissioners can help make Fraserburgh a hub for this renewables project.
“It would be of great benefit to the town as a whole.”
Councillors at Buckie have already said they are keen to land at least one maintenance contract.
If approved, construction could begin in 2015, with the first electricity being produced a year later.
The entire project – between 339 and 417 turbines – should be completed in 2020.
In 2010, the Crown Estate gave Morl – a joint venture between EDP Renewables and SeaEnergy Renewables – exclusive rights to develop turbines in a specified zone in the Outer Moray Firth.