Page last updated at 15:46 GMT, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 16:46 UK

Highland Council urges public ownership of Nigg

Offshore wind turbine hubs at Nigg
Hubs of two offshore wind turbines were put togther at Nigg in 2006

The Scottish government has been asked to take the steps necessary to bring the former Nigg oil yard in Easter Ross into public ownership.

Highland Council has written to cabinet secretary John Swinney urging him to take action.

Nigg is largely mothballed amid an ongoing dispute between its owners, US company KBR and a family trust.

DSM Demolition, meanwhile, has said it wants to take over the yard and turn it into a major manufacturing hub.

The letter to Mr Swinney has been signed by council convener Sandy Park and leader of the administration, Michael Foxley.

In the letter, they say: "We are aware of alternative development proposals for the yard but these do not necessarily meet the objectives of the National Renewables Infrastructure Plan.

It is a unique facility without parallel
Mark Cummings
DSM Demolition

"Both of the yards in Scotland which are active in the offshore renewables market, namely Arnish and Methil, are in public ownership.

"We feel that decisive action is needed at this time and would value an early meeting with you to discuss this urgent matter."

Birmingham-based DSM Demolition wants to use part of the site to decommission ships and redundant oil platforms.

But its main proposal is to turn the yard into a hub for the manufacturing renewable energy devices.

The firm has bought 800 acres of land next to the yard and is now negotiating to take over the entire facility.

'Toxic ships'

It said its plans could help create 1,000 jobs and inject £65m a year into the local economy.

DSM's spokesman Mark Cummings said the scrappage element of its plans would not see defunct nuclear submarines or so-called "toxic ships" arriving at Nigg.

He said the massive former oil platform construction site should be mixed use - providing facilities for breaking up vessels, manufacturing and constructing renewable energy devices.

Mr Cummings said: "The multi-user, multi-industry model is the best one and that is where the economic opportunity is at Nigg.

"It is a unique facility without parallel."

The yard has deep water access, dry docks and large sheds.

Parts for two offshore wind turbines were delivered to and put together at Nigg before being floated out into the Moray Firth in 2006 and 2007.

Legal action

Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) have been looking at ways of breathing new life into Nigg through the construction of more renewable energy devices.

Charlotte Wright, HIE regional director, said: "HIE continues to work with other public and private sector organisations to take forward the strategic development of Nigg as a major asset in the renewable energy sector.

"As part of this work DSM is one company we will be meeting to discuss their future proposals for the site."

Highland Council has previously said it would take legal action to take over the yard if a long-running dispute between its owners - KBR and the private landowner - was not resolved.

The dispute has held up the sale of the site.

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