United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Shipyard pins hopes on wind

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New life could be breathed into Campbelltown Shipyard in Kintyre, Scotland, if plans for a nearby wind farm go ahead. Proposals to reopen the shipyard to make turbine towers depend on ScottishPower's proposed 30 MW wind farm 13 miles away at Beinn an Tuirc receiving planning consent from Argyll and Bute council. Since the shipyard's closure a year ago, the area has become an unemployment blackspot.

According to Alan Mortimer of ScottishPower, the yard would be ideal for making the 50 towers for the proposed 600 kW turbines. "We have carried out an investigation to see how feasible a contract of this size would be," he says. "There would be a need for some new machines and tooling, but most of the facilities are in place."

The long lead time before Beinn an Tuirc needs to be commissioned would allow the shipyard time to re-establish its manufacturing capability. Les Howarth, the yard's former managing director says there is still a nucleus of a labour force locally, with all the skills needed. Initially, the contract could provide around 30 jobs. But there would also be an important spin off for employment in providing local goods and services. Howarth, meanwhile, is looking beyond the Beinn an Tuirc project to a future of building wind turbine components. "The beauty of the Scottish Power contract is that it would last for 12 months. That would give us time to establish the company and to create a name as a reputable manufacturer." He also points out that Campbelltown possesses deep water harbour facilities to facilitate exports.

A decision on ScottishPower's planning application is expected in March. But even if the wind farm does go ahead, the company cannot guarantee that Campbelltown wins the towers' contract. The final decision rests with the wind turbine manufacturer. "We would do all we can to encourage it, but we cannot enforce it," says Mortimer. Howarth says the project provides the only immediate prospects for jobs at the shipyard. "It is the brightest light on the horizon," he states.

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