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NDA delivers £5 million boost to Scrabster harbour

By Gordon Calder

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A BID to upgrade Scrabster harbour has received a massive boost with a £5 million award from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

The money will help the port develop the St Ola pier, increasing its capacity to accommodate larger boats, attract offshore oil and gas vessels and take additional cruise ships.

The improvement work – expected to cost £17 million – is likely to generate up to 50 new jobs, increase traffic and bring extra visitors, providing a boost to the area’s tourism industry.

The improvement work at Scrabster is likely to generate up to 50 new jobs.
The improvement work at Scrabster is likely to generate up to 50 new jobs.

It is understood the upgrade could increase revenue for Scrabster harbour by 18 per cent over five years. Work will include dredging, to increase the depth of the water, and modifications to the pier itself – meaning larger vessels are able berth there.

NDA chief executive David Peattie said: "Supporting the communities around our sites is a fundamental part of our mission to clean up the UK’s nuclear legacy.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for the NDA to help develop Scrabster harbour in a way that can have a long-lasting impact for the community of Caithness."

Sandy Mackie, Scrabster Harbour Trust manager, said: "This is a tremendous vote of confidence in our project. We are working closely with a number of organisations to progress the project and expect to make further announcements in the coming months, as the funding and development plans come together."

Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership (CNSRP) was set up in 2008 to address the economic impact that the work to decommission the Dounreay site would have on the north Highlands.

CNSRP chairman Ian Ross welcomed the news. He said: "We have made good progress in our efforts to move the economies of Caithness and North Sutherland away from their dependence on Dounreay.

"Both Scrabster and Wick harbours have been an important part of the regeneration partnership's work, and this news will reinforce the importance of marine activities in the region.

"The award of £5 million to Scrabster harbour by the NDA will significantly improve the capacity of this key strategic asset."

Scrabster is already an important port, supporting fishing, oil and renewables and providing a ferry link to Orkney.

It is operated by a trust overseen by a board of management appointed from the community. All surpluses generated from the harbour operation are reinvested in the port and its infrastructure.

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