Confirmation that Buckie Harbour will become an operations and maintenance base for the Moray West offshore wind farm will lead to huge changes at the port.
The existing harbour office will be demolished to make way for a new building that will manage the turbines as well as their construction and upkeep.
The new command centre is just one of several massive changes due at Buckie Harbour following the Moray West announcement.
What changes are coming to Buckie Harbour?
The Moray West development is due to take over almost an entire pier at Buckie Harbour to create its operations and maintenance base.
The existing surface will be replaced and cranes will be installed on the quayside.
Three crew transfer vessels will operate from the port to transfer engineers, technicians, construction staff and other personnel.
Large pontoons are also due to be installed in the water for the boats.
Jamie Dempster, Moray West’s operations director, said locals would see “big visual changes” in the port in the coming years.
He said: “Visually over the next two or three years you will see big transformation at Buckie.”
Why Buckie for Moray West?
Buckie Harbour was selected by Moray West as the home for its base in a bidding process that also included Wick and Fraserburgh.
Officials analysed up to 20 years of weather analysis as well as projections of costs to transfer personnel to the wind farm before choosing Buckie.
Up to 85 wind turbines will be built about 13 miles off the coast of the Moray town, subject to the award of a UK Government contract for difference (CFD) next year.
Stuart Black, Moray area manager for Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “Buckie is a very safe harbour and offers a lot of quayside potential, which is a very important thing.
“Macduff Shipyard’s presence in Buckie is very important because they can service the vehicles – they already do that from right across the UK.
“I think the other thing is the proximity to the new harbourside office that is going to be built here.”
What does it mean for the future of Buckie?
Moray Council has long marketed Buckie Harbour as a potential base for an offshore wind farm development.
A masterplan was developed in 2015 to showcase the potential of the port to developers.
Turbines being planned for Moray West are expected to be operational for at least 30 years with the first power expected to be generated in 2024.
Moray Council leader Graham Leadbitter said the announcement confirmed the long-term sustainability of the harbour.
He said: “I think there’s a really clean line of sight now for children, they are able to see skilled jobs working at the sea and working as possibly technicians and engineers on the boats that will operate out of the harbour.
“The turbines are designed to last 30 to 35 years, and maybe beyond that, so it’s really the future sustainability of the harbour that has been announced.”
Moray MP Douglas Ross said: “This is massive news for Moray and is a real boost for Buckie to be chosen ahead of other potential sites in Fraserburgh and Wick.
“There has been a great deal of work done by Moray Council and local businesses to highlight the potential for Buckie Harbour and it’s clear there will now be considerable investment in the area going forward.”