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16 October 2014

Arnish Lighthouse

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The Bottomless Pit

Highlands and Islands Enterprise are forking out another half million pound for pouring into the Arnish Fabrication Yard, days after the last operator, Camcal, announced it had gone into administration. It has previously subsidised the enterprise there by an aggregate £16 million, but that did not prevent Cambrian Engineering and now Camcal from going under.

I would like to reply to the comments made by Iain Macleod in my previous post on this subject. The company Hebridean Engineering ceased trading this summer, as Western Isles Enterprise were not prepared to back them up. Although my figure of a £20 million subsidy was not accurate, it wasn't that far off the mark. There WAS a healthy orderbook, as demonstrated by the fact that work had to be shipped out to be completed. There are plenty of windturbines needing to be manufactured nationwide, not just the 243 for this island's proposed windfarms.

The question has to be asked what is prompting the collapse of subsequent operators at this heavy industry site, before more of the taxpayers' funds are poured down this bottomless pit. Twice now, large sums of money were put in, only for the operators to go bust. I do not oppose economic development, but something keeps going wrong there. This morning, the suggestion was mooted that the site be diversified, as is already the case with Hebridean Seaweed, a new company which processes seaweed collected on the island's shoreline.

The proposed windfarm along the Pentland Road (on Beinn Mholach) is to be subjected to a public inquiry, partially due to its proximity to the large Amec development, which stretches all the way to Bragar and north to Ness. This means that its commencement will be delayed until at least 2008. The same delay will now also affect the Amec and Eishken windfarms.

I do not accept that these delays were a major contributory factor in the collapse of Camcal. There is a healthy renewables market in Scotland and the UK as a whole, including wavepower projects such as was exported to Portugal earlier this year.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 11:57


The devil is in the detail. The £500,000 by HIE is for the infrastructure for the whole of the Arnish site rather than for the small part used by Camcal. I think it is important to make this crucial distinction between the Arnish yard and the Arnish industrial estate. I think you are confusing the two. Most locals want to see Arnish flourish and HIE developed and invested around £10 to £13 million or so on works at the very large Arnish site to create an industrial estate. That money (which is included in the £16 or £20 million you talk about) is still there. It was used to clear rock, prepare indiviual sites or plots, build roads, sewerage, wharfage, electricity network etc. When there is (misleading) talk of that cash being used to subsidise Camcal or Cambrian which are both in administration then many people wrongly assume that all that money has been lost. This is how I think people are getting their facts wrong: Camcal or Cambrian received and subsequently lost around £ 3 million each in public funds (although losses in Camcal are not yet confirmed). This comes to £6 million used to subsidise the actual fabrication companies and gone down the tubes with them. Now, many people are adding this £6 million to the £10 /£13 million for infrastructure and coming up with these figures of £16 to £20 million - and neglecting to mention or failing to understanding that the later sums are safe and well used. Which brings us on to the new £500,000 from HIE. This was already earmarked for further improvements to infrastructure for the whole site before Camcal went bankrupt. The strategy for Arnish which was well publicised over the past years has always looked for a variety of different businesses and industries. All this info is already in the public domain as is the fact that the owners of Heb Engineering retired and, contary to your previous blog, were certainly not forced to close because of the Camcal crisis. One owner had already retired years ago anyway. Some employees apparently wanted grants off Western Isles Enterprise to buy the business but this is not allowed under the rules. Past contracts are not a mark of a healthy order book - the work that was in the yard at the time of closure was the only contracts Camcal had and would only have lasted another few weeks anyway. I think it is pretty obvious that if there was work available then Camcal would not have gone bust and could have kept on trading. Some work that is there is probably going to cheaper foreign competitiors. There has been a lot of planning applications for wind farms held up by protestors and thus a lot fewer contracts for turbines coming through. A lot of it is to do with timing - the Portugal wave farm project was an one off trial and the first (and only) in the world. The Amec and Eishken wndfarms are good examples of planning delays while the Pentland Road windfarm (6 whole turbines) is going to be about 4 years late. Finally the Pentland Road inquiry is not because of its proximity to the Amec windfarm (but because of planes) but its outcome may have a bearing on Amec.

Ian Macleod from Lewis

We built Callanish Interantional Airport for a fraction of the price for last year's fank. The Fank Committee could turn the fabrication yard around in no time. No one is building miniature windfarms for mantlepieces and desk tops - there's a huge market. Just look at the number of model Eiffel towers there are around the world - a huge gap those thickos on the board at Arnish never spotted.

calumannabel from dragons' den Galson

Does Mr. Ian Macleod own shares or interests in Camcal ( which is an anagram of Calmac! Clever that isn't it? ) And remember Mr Ian Macleod that arnish lighthouse sees all. Flights to Barra do not classify as International calumannabel.

thewhitesettler from in the shower

I think you'll find if you go to Barra you'll need a phrase book - that's international in my book. Besides which why are there Palistan Airlines and Qantas 757s parked on the tarmac there - it's certainly not for decoration.

calumannabel from Calum Kennedy International Airport Ness

*"There has been a lot of planning applications for wind farms held up by protestors and thus a lot fewer contracts for turbines coming through"* - That's curious Ian, I was under the impression that windfarm applications were being 'held up' because they were either a) judged inappropriate by the respective local councils and therefore stopped, or b) going to public inquiry, which I suspect they would have done anyway, whatever the level of protest from the public. If the relatively small Pentland Road scheme is going to P.I,. what chance have LWP and BMP of avoiding P.I.s? More uncertainty and infighting in the islands for years to come...

Colin Osgapaidh from Isle of Lewis

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