Dozens of jobs will be created as a result of a £17million investment into a major redevelopment of a Caithness harbour.
It is hoped the multi-million pound transformation work at the St Ola Pier by the Scrabster Harbour Trust will create 50 new jobs on top of the 400 the busy port already supports – and help ease the pain for a post-Dounreay Caithness.
A contractor is currently being sought to conduct the design and construction phases of the development with the trust hoping to have selected three bidders by Easter which they will negotiate with over the proposed development.
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Sandy Mackie, port manager at Scrabster Harbour, said: “We think this is a great opportunity to refurbish and redevelop an existing pier which served as the original ferry pier and create a better piece of infrastructure.
“We believe the redevelopment will appeal to, not just the energy market, but to the cruise market also.”
Scrabster Harbour is seeking to implement a double-sided pier spanning 920 foot that would allow the harbour to service more offshore oil and gas, renewable-energy and cruise vessels.
Mr Mackie added: “We are very much delighted to have reached this stage. Scrabster has made some quite significant developments in the past and these have paid dividends in increasing our revenue and also for the economic impacts for the local area.
“At present, Scrabster Harbour helps support over 400 jobs and we want to grow that in the future.
“Our Ola project is projected to add another 50 to those figures. Given the Dounreay decision, we have to look towards a sustainable future for Caithness and north Sutherland. We feel we have played a part in that and hope to continue that through our future developments.”
In an independent economic impact assessment commissioned in 2017, it was estimated the total economic output of the harbour measured at £48million, a rise of £9million since the previous instalment took place in 2009.
Over the course of the past 25 years, Scrabster Harbour has seen significant development and investment into its infrastructure, with more than £35million being invested to bring the vital marine asset up to the modern day standards the ever-expanding trade is demanding of the area.
Local councillor Donnie Mackay said: “I am delighted. Any jobs are an advantage to me. Scrabster has developed greatly over the years and I am just delighted.
“I think they will get something from the investment sector which is good. Anything that keeps young people in Caithness and the locality is welcomed news and I open both hands to this.”
Councillor Matthew Reiss added: “Scrabster is already providing a lot of jobs and this is another example of how the port is moving forward.
“I am delighted to hear of these new jobs at a time when the county is dealing with the gradual decommissioning detail at Dounreay.”