Eyemouth harbours hope

EYEMOUTH Harbour could soon become an operations and maintenance (O&M) port for offshore windfarms with Michael Moore labelling it as an ideal candidate for such a move.

The Eyemouth Harbour Trust, Coastal Marine Boatbuilding, Scottish Borders Council and others met with the Borders MP last week to discuss the harbour’s potential as an O&M port for offshore windfarms in the Firth of Forth.

The work of the trust and the local council ahead of the meeting demonstrated that due to the facilities at the harbour and the land available around the town, Eyemouth would be an ideal location for such a port.

Although the Forth Array, the development closest to Eyemouth, is yet to be tendered following the withdrawal of Fred Olsen Renewable’s interest last year, the harbour is already servicing a boat for the Neart Na Gaoithe development further north. The survey vessel belongs to Surewind Marine, who operate a fleet of environmental research and survey vessels and wind farm support vessels in the offshore wind farm sector.

The company’s managing director Dominic Abraham said that with the Forth Array contract up for grabs it was important to demonstrate to any developer that Eyemouth had the facilities, skills and local knowledge to service an offshore windfarm.

And Berwickshire MP Michael Moore, emphasised the wide spread benefits of Eyemouth becoming an O&M port, adding that the town’s expert boat builders, good road access and fishermen with a vast knowledge of local waters gave it a firm advantage.

Eyemouth Harbour Trust’s vice chairman Grahame Sinclair commented: “Last Friday’s meeting once again proved hugely beneficial to the trust as they strive to raise the port’s profile to the renewable energy industry.

“We have recognised for some time now that it is vital for the future of the harbour and the town that we gain some new and diverse business whilst continuing to support the fishing industry.”

Meanwhile, moving inshore, a community liaison group has been set up as an application for yet another windfarm in Berwickshire is in the offing.

Renewable Energy Systems are proposing the building of up to 19 turbines at Penmanshiel near Grantshouse, close to the already approved Drone Hill windfarm.

The latter has yet to be erected, but in accordance with new planning legislation, RES, who operate a windfarm at Blackhill, have already been in touch with various community councils to inform them of their plans for Penmanshiel.

The liason group will act as a forum to discuss any suggestions or concerns related to the wind farm and will meet every two to three months, with the first meeting, attended by two representatives from seven community councils, taking place last month.

A spokesperson for RES, who say they “believe in open and honest communication with communities,” commented: “RES will be submitting a planning application to Scottish Borders Council for the Penmanshiel wind farm in the summer and as part of the new planning system we have submitted a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) setting out how we will consult with the local community over our plans.

“We are confident that this is a very good site for a wind farm and that our sensitively designed project will be an asset to the area.

“Our site selection criteria seeks to balance available wind resource with environmental, technical and other constraining factors to ensure the project has minimal impact on the environment and local community.”

The project website, www.penmanshiel-windfarm.co.uk, will go live at the end of next week.