Enterprise chiefs have unveiled their vision for an “international, multi-use” campus in Fort William, in the wake of the closure of a diving centre in the town.
The move follows the closure of The Underwater Centre in Fort William, which entered administration last month.
The facility’s assets are now being marketed, with what is believed to be considerable interest from private sector firms.
Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has been leading efforts to build on the area’s reputation for subsea training and testing services and the associated economic activities locally.
HIE has developed a ‘concept for industry’ with support from Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Funding Council and industry bodies.
Audrey MacIver, HIE’s director of energy and low carbon, said: “There is huge potential in Loch Linnhe, not only to serve the subsea sector, but enhance the contribution it makes to Scotland’s economy.
“We have been working alongside the Scottish Government, our agency partners and industry to make the most of that opportunity.
“A world class facility that meets the changing and future requirements of industries would build on the foundations and reputation the area has, thanks to the Underwater Centre. Not surprisingly, there appears to be a lot of interest in the centre’s assets.
“We are now able to present potential investors with the concept for a subsea campus. This would have strong links across industry, academia and the public sector, in a way that meets the changing needs of the subsea sectors.”
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Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK welcomed yesterday’s announcement.
He said: “It’s crucial that our industry continues to have access to world-leading underwater training and testing.
“The centre is of critical importance to the North Sea as one of only two in the world which provides closed bell diver training and its value to the UK subsea sector cannot be underestimated.
“We hope that this concept and the considerable interest from private firms can be turned into a sustainable underwater campus which will continue to provide the highest standards of training and test facilities, vital to safe and effective underwater operations in oil and gas, offshore renewables, defence and ocean science.”