A ceremony took place today to mark the opening of a pier in Orkney that will serve as a major base for the marine renewable energy industry.
At 385 meters – almost a quarter of a mile – the newly extended Hatston Pier is now Scotland’s longest commercial deep-water berth.
The 160-metre extension to the existing 225-metre pier was officially opened by Neil Kermode, Managing Director of the Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC).
Orkney Islands Council’s £8 million project, which attracted £3.2 million in support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has resulted in a major support and logistics base for marine energy developers.
Hatston Pier, on the outskirts of Kirkwall, is strategically located for EMEC’s test site off the island of Eday, where a number of tidal energy devices are undergoing trials.
Council Convener, Councillor Steven Heddle, said: “The pier, and all the developers and businesses who use it, will be part of the success story of marine renewables in Orkney, and contribute to our islands’ ongoing prosperity.
“That is our hope, and our expectation, and that is why the Council has chosen to invest in the future here.”
The extension to Hatston marks the completion of the second phase in the Council’s Three Port Strategy to support the development of wave and tidal energy generation in the islands.
A former wartime naval base at Lyness already has a new lease of life as a multi-purpose logistics base for the wave and tidal energy sectors, while a new 100 metre Pier at Copland’s Dock in Stromness is currently under construction.
Councillor Heddle added: “Our aim is to ensure that world leading research and testing activity at EMEC leads on to the world leading commercialisation of a new industry.
“With Orkney at its hub, this will secure economic benefit and employment for our islands for many years to come.
“This is an ambitious goal, and since initial development of the strategy in 2009 there has been investment of more than £20 million in marine renewable energy infrastructure projects by the Council and its funding partners, the European Regional Development Fund and the Scottish Government.”
Mr Kermode said: “Orkney enthusiastically welcomed the first developers of tidal turbines and has seen at first-hand how hard they all work and what they need.
“Orkney has rolled up its sleeves to do everything it can to help them succeed and Hatston Pier is the biggest manifestation to date of this can-do attitude. I can’t think of a clearer signal to the burgeoning wave and tidal industry that Orkney is open for business.”
As well as supporting the marine renewable energy sector, Hatston Pier will also serve as a berth for a variety of vessels, including ferries, cruise ships and those serving the offshore oil and gas industries.