First work for dry dock at Kishorn in 23 years

Image source, Kishorn Port Ltd
Image caption, The dry dock forms part of Kishorn Port in Wester Ross

A dry dock at Kishorn in the north west Highlands is to be used for the first time in 23 years.

The facility was built to help with the construction of the North Sea oil and gas industry's Ninian Central Platform in the 1970s.

The dry dock was last used for the construction of supports for the Skye Bridge. These were moved out of Kishorn to Skye in 1994.

The dock will now to be used for the Kincardine Offshore Windfarm project.

Once constructed, the renewable energy scheme will be one of the world's largest floating offshore wind farms.

The 50MW eight-turbine wind farm will be constructed nine miles (15km) south east of Aberdeen.

The Scottish government has said that, once operational, it will have the capacity to power the equivalent of almost 56,000 homes.

Kishorn: A brief history

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, The yard's dry dock was last used for making supports for the Skye Bridge

The dry dock is part of the Kishorn Yard, which was developed in the 1970s as a manufacturing and fabrication yard for oil platforms.

Between 1975 and 1987, it was owned by Howard Doris Ltd and in 1977 more than 3,000 people were employed at the site.

There was not enough accommodation for so many workers in this part of the north west Highlands coast so two retired cruise ships, Rangatira and the Odysseus, were brought in to accommodate them.

The yard was used in the construction of the North Sea oil and gas industry's massive Ninian Central Platform in the late 1970s.

This structure weighed 600,000 tonnes once completed, making it the largest man-made moveable object at the time. Seven tugs were required to tow it from Loch Kishorn to its North Sea site.

The dry dock was last used in the 1990s for the making of two caissons to support the Skye Bridge.

Two hundred jobs are to be created at Kishorn in Wester Ross where large concrete substructures for the turbines are to be made.

The dry dock is one of the largest in Europe and the new work will involve materials from a nearby quarry operated by Leith's.

'New life'

Carlos Barat, director of the wind farm project, said: "This is a significant development for the people of Kishorn and will directly lead to the creation of up to 200 much-needed jobs in the area.

"We are proud that we are able to support local business as we progress towards bringing this important development forward.

"Today's agreement to use Kishorn dry dock will herald a new era for offshore renewables and, of course, for this area as the terrific potential this facility offers the country is realised."

Simon Russell, a director of Kishorn Port Limited, said: "The combination of Leith's on-site quarry at Kishorn with one of the largest dry docks in western Europe makes the yard an ideal location for manufacturing large concrete structures.

"This, combined with the expertise of Ferguson Transport and Shipping in operating and managing the port, will breathe new life into an area that has suffered for many years from a lack of commercial investment."

Image source, Handout
Image caption, The facilities at Kishorn were originally developed to meet needs from North Sea oil and gas industry

Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse, who visited Kishorn on Friday, said: "I am delighted to be here in Kishorn today to witness the signing of the exclusivity agreement between Kishorn Port Ltd and the team developing the Kincardine Offshore wind farm - a key, newly consented floating offshore windfarm.

"This agreement paves the way for work to begin at Kishorn dry dock constructing the Kincardine Floating Offshore Windfarm, which will produce enough electricity to power almost 56,000 homes."

'Valuable jobs'

Highlands and Islands Enterprise has invested £158,932 in the £450,000 costs of upgrading the dry dock in readiness for new contracts.

HIE's area manager for Skye, Lochaber and Wester Ross, Robert Muir, said: "It is great to see Kishorn coming to life again.

"The dock has huge potential, not just for renewables, but for oil and gas and aquaculture too.

"The site will provide valuable rural jobs and contribute to both economic and community growth, and wider competitiveness of the region. We very much welcome this milestone today."

Image source, Handout
Image caption, An agreement for the new wind farm work for Kishorn was signed on Friday

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