Page last updated at 01:33 GMT, Thursday, 17 December 2009

Wind turbines may be built at Nigg creating 2,000 jobs

offshore wind turbines
Offshore wind turbines may now be built at the Nigg fabrication yard

Two thousand jobs could be created in the Highlands if an American firm invests in a project to build offshore wind turbines.

The proposal is for the Nigg fabrication yard in Easter Ross, which once built oil platforms.

The US firm which owns much of the Nigg site, KBR, said it was considering converting the site so it could construct wind turbines.

If KBR goes ahead the investment could be well over £100m.

The Nigg yard once employed thousands of people, and some of the North Sea's largest oil platforms were built there.

However as the market for offshore oil structures tailed off, the yard became quiet, and for a number of years the Texas-based oil engineering group KBR has been trying to offload it.

But this latest proposal would see the yard becoming a centre for making wind turbines, with the possibility of creating around 2,000 jobs.

Substantial upgrade

The yard has been used to build two experimental offshore turbines, the first to be sited in the deep waters of the North Sea.

Now KBR is considering using the site to construct some of the hundreds of offshore wind turbines expected to be installed in the seas around the UK coast in the years to come.

If the company does take on offshore wind fabrication, it could mean an investment of well in excess of £100m, which could create jobs for 2000 people.

On Thursday the company will consider a business plan which envisages a substantial upgrade of the current facilities that would see Nigg become a specialist in making renewables.

If the proposal goes ahead, the upgrade could be finished by late 2011.

Highland Council is keen for the yard to be put to use. The authority is primed to move to a compulsory purchase order (CPO) if the US company rejects the proposals.

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