A MASSIVE offshore development could provide a vital injection to the Moray economy.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing recently gave consent to adjacent offshore wind farms in the outer Moray Firth.
Together, the Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd and the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd projects will be the world’s third largest with up to 326 turbines.
The developments, sited off the Caithness coast, will be capable of generating up to 1,866MW of electricity, enough to power over one million homes, and will be worth up to £2.5 billion to the Scottish economy.
Councillor for Buckie Gordon McDonald welcomed the news.
“The council and the town have got their act together and are promoting Buckie as a safe harbour, particularly for the maintenance sector,” he said.
“We realise large fabrication can’t be done in Buckie, but the offshore maintenance work is long-term work and the town is ideally suited for that.
“At the moment, there is work on smaller offshore wind farms with catamarans from Buckie going out to them.”
Last August Buckie Shipyard went into administration with the loss of more than 70 jobs.
Although Macduff Shipyard Ltd took over the main fabrication building in December, Moray Council is seeking to develop the rest of the site.
Councillor McDonald said: “We are still looking for preferred bidders and there are quite a few people interested in it. We are trying to maximise that.”
He added there was also opportunity to look at other sectors including the oil industry, to be based in Buckie as ports around Aberdeen were becoming congested.
MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Stewart Stevenson, whose constituency takes in Buckie, said: “Development of Buckie harbour is recognised as being of national infrastructure importance and the wind farm developments in the Moray Firth are a major factor in making that viable and delivering substantial economic development to Buckie and the wider Moray economy.
“The consenting of these developments is great news and I fully expect to see these projects progressing apace and generating significant jobs and investment to support them.”
Mr Ewing said Scotland had the potential to lead the development of a new renewable industry as offshore wind turbines moved into deeper waters.
“These wind farms alone could generate gross value worth up to £2.5 billion over their lifetime and generate up to 4,600 jobs during peak construction and up to 580 once in operation,” he said.
“The Scottish Government is committed to the successful and sustainable development of an offshore wind sector, which could lead to a potential inward investment of £30 billion and support up to 28,000 direct jobs and a further 20,000 indirect jobs, generating up to £7.1 billion for the Scottish economy.
“As this industry develops, our enterprise agencies are working to secure supply chain development for Scotland.”