Page last updated at 10:05 GMT, Wednesday, 29 July 2009 11:05 UK

Firm plans ship breaking at yard

Nigg oil yard
Nigg has almost 70 acres of open yard space

A massive former oil yard in the Highlands offers an ideal site for the breaking up of redundant ships and oil rigs, a demolition firm has said.

DSM Demolition is to set out its plans for mothballed Nigg in Easter Ross, to Energy Minister Jim Mather.

Highland Council has said it will take legal action to take over the yard if a dispute between its owners, that has held up its sale, was not resolved.

Mark Cummings, of DSM, said Nigg was unique to the UK.

He said: "Breaking up ships or breaking up oil rigs does come at a cost, but the consequences of leaving these facilities to rot in the sea is worse."

Bus station

Mr Cummings said Nigg was large enough to deal with the demolition of vessels and platforms in an environmentally sound manner without harming the activities of other site users, such as firms manufacturing renewable energy devices.

He added: "Nigg is the only facility in the UK that can do all of it in one common facility and that is why we as a British-based company are very interested in Nigg and have been for some time."

DSM is demolishing the BBC's Pebble Mill studios in the Midlands and previously tore down Liverpool's old bus station.

The Nigg yard was opened in the early 70s to construct platforms for the North Sea oil and gas industry.

It has one of the largest dry docks in Europe, 45,570 sq m of covered workshop and almost 70 acres of yard space.

It was once an economic powerhouse in the Highlands, employing 5,000 people and building some of the biggest offshore structures the world had ever seen.

But as North Sea oil development dwindled away so did the market for production platforms.

The owners of the site - US oil and gas giant KBR and the Wakelyn Trust - have been in disagreement over its sale.

KBR is tied into the long-term lease for the southern part from the Wakelyn Trust.

They have so far failed to agree a price for the lease to be bought out, which would open the way for the site to be sold.

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