The Highlands could be on the brink of a new job boom and the Port of Ardersier can be at the heart of it, according to the site’s boss.
Stephen Gobbi, appointed chief executive for the proposed new port late last year, believes the recent decision by Highland councillors to back plans for what could be the world’s largest offshore windfarm, off Caithness, highlights the scale of opportunity in the region.
Up to 339 turbines could be erected in the Moray Firth under the proposals for three projects, sitting side by side. Developer Moray Offshore Renewables estimates that up to 3,000 Scottish jobs could be created during the construction phase, with 2,000 of those coming to the north and north-east.
Port of Ardersier is the firm behind plans for a major offshore wind-energy manufacturing hub at the former fabrication yard at Whiteness Head. Mr Gobbi said: “HIE (Highlands and Islands Enterprise) estimates the offshore wind construction sector will be worth £70-£80billion in the year ahead and the key for Scotland is to capture as much of this as possible. Every job we can secure at a Scottish port can generate as many as eight other jobs in the wider local economy.”
Port of Ardersier, 14 miles east of Inverness, extends to 340 acres and includes a near-1,100-yard deepwater quay. The site was reclaimed from the foreshore in the 1970s for building offshore oil and gas platforms.
Mr Gobbi said the renewables industry needed room, adding: “Gravity foundations, subsea structures, turbines, blades and cabling will take up space, while some new-generation turbines will have rotor diameters of 180 metres (591ft). Ardersier is one of the few locations which can accommodate this kind of activity.”