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Plans for high-water protection gate after renewable energy award for Wick Harbour Authority


By Alan Hendry

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Wick harbour master Malcolm Bremner, with part of the Beatrice operations and maintenance base in the background. He says there is a bright future for Caithness, and in particular Wick harbour. Picture: Alan Hendry
Wick harbour master Malcolm Bremner, with part of the Beatrice operations and maintenance base in the background. He says there is a bright future for Caithness, and in particular Wick harbour. Picture: Alan Hendry

Plans have been revealed for a major upgrade at Wick harbour which will strengthen its role as an energy port.

Wick Harbour Authority is aiming to install a high-water protection gate which will enable vessels to use the outer harbour berthing facilities all year round. It comes at a time when the authority is receiving a number of enquiries about the next round of offshore wind leasing.

Details were released after the port won the accolade for Best Offshore Renewable Energy Project at the Highlands and Islands Renewable Energy Awards 2021. Wick is the operations and maintenance base for the 84-turbine Beatrice offshore farm which was officially opened in 2019.

The awards, organised by Highland News and Media Group in association with Harper Macleod, took place online on Thursday night.

Harbour master Malcolm Bremner said: "The team at Wick Harbour Authority are absolutely thrilled to have won Best Offshore Renewable Energy Project at the Highlands and Islands Renewable Energy Awards.

“The positive impact the Beatrice offshore wind farm development has had at Wick and throughout the wider Caithness economy cannot be overstated and it has been the catalyst for a number of new businesses locally now operating in support of the offshore renewables industry."

An artist's impression of the proposed high-water protection gate at Wick's outer harbour. Image: Arch Henderson / Wick Harbour Authority
An artist's impression of the proposed high-water protection gate at Wick's outer harbour. Image: Arch Henderson / Wick Harbour Authority

Mr Bremner said the board had worked tirelessly over a number of years to help bring the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (BOWL) project to the town. "This involved engagement with harbour stakeholders, the local community and councillors and, importantly, building good working relationships with the operators SSE and their subcontractors," Mr Bremner said.

“Far from standing still, the harbour authority has exciting plans to rejuvenate the outer harbour.”

He explained that the proposed high-water protection gate would allow vessels to berth in the outer harbour "even in the strongest south-east gales". At present, he said, the use of that part of the harbour is constrained during the winter months.

“This scheme has been fully designed and approved as suitable for purpose and is currently with funding agencies for consideration and approval," Mr Bremner said.

“It is an exciting time here in the north as the offshore renewables industry is going to be a significant employer throughout the Highlands and Islands as the country moves towards the ambition of being net-zero by 2045.

"Wick harbour, and more widely Caithness, remains very well placed geographically due to its proximity to the developing and scoped sites. In addition, Caithness has an excellent supply chain and importantly the skills and services that operators and developers seek when selecting ports for operations and maintenance bases.

“Already, Wick Harbour Authority is receiving a number of enquiries about the next round of offshore wind leasing sites and how we may be able to facilitate their potential operations.

“There is a bright future for Caithness, and in particular Wick harbour, with the potential of many jobs being created in this fast-growing industry.”

The award for the harbour was welcomed today by Councillor Nicola Sinclair, who represents Wick and East Caithness and chairs Highland Council's Caithness Committee.

“This is fantastic and well-deserved recognition for Wick harbour," Councillor Sinclair said. "My thanks and congratulations to Wick Harbour Authority for having the vision and ambition to transform the area.

“As we look to regenerate the town centre, the success at the harbour is a note of hope about what can be achieved with the right strategy.

“We now have a significant opportunity to maximise the harbour as a port, and to diversify and recover the Caithness economy – and the growth of renewables is an important component of that.

“I look forward to continuing to work alongside local stakeholders to achieve the next steps, including the protection gate, which could have a significant benefit in terms of increasing activity at the harbour.”

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