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BID Business Comment

The recent announcement that Roy MacGregor’s Global Energy Group has

purchased the former Nigg fabrication yard on the Cromarty Firth is

great news for everybody in the highlands area.

 

Being based elsewhere when the yard developed during the North Sea

Oil & Gas boom of the 70’s & 80’s like many englishmen I had very

little feel for the sheer scale of that operation which at its

height added an estimated £100m a year to the Highlands economy

whilst providing 5000 jobs. With the yard closing in 2000 my vision

of the 238 acre yard has been of a ghost town although talking to

local business leaders over the last couple of years, one could feel

the potential, the desire (and frustration) that they saw to get Nigg

back into operation.

 

So all credit must go to Global and the various agencies who have

worked together to deliver the newly named Nigg Energy Park. The

Scottish Government, HIE and Highland Council have all had important

roles in developing the site and project which the Government has

described as a “multi-use modern energy park” . 

 

Global´s prediction that there will be “at least 2,000 jobs created

at the yard by 2015 in both offshore renewable energy as well as

subsea oil & gas projects” is a mouth watering prospect as such a

figure according to HIE would account for a rise of 2.9% in

employment in the inner Moray Firth area! 

 

And it is suggested that even this figure could be boosted by up to a

further 1500 jobs if a wind turbine manufacturer could be attracted

to the site.

 

I well remember attending a dinner just after our move here and

listening to HIE´s Chairman Willie Roe explaining the features and

drivers of the Highland economy. As I recall it was an eloquent

resume over the previous decade. What struck me was how diverse the

economy was and different to the cities I had previously experienced.

 

Included in the mix was obviously tourism which we all know has an

affect across all business sectors from accommodation providers to

retail, food & drink to the local corner shop – we all benefit from

tourism spend. 

 

Thus one of the aspects of Nigg project emphasised by First Minister

Alex Salmond which hit home with me, was that the jobs to be created

on the Cromarty Firth were high value with an average salary of £37k

pa. This compares with the UK average of £26k and the even lower

highland figure.

 

Adding this level of new disposable income into our economy will like

the tourism spend, surely benefit all of our business sectors. And

from what I have been told of the original Nigg boom that benefit

will be spread around highlands and not just the immediate area.

 

Of course this project has an obvious synergy with the training and

job opportunities for our local youngsters both through the College

and university as well as the Government’s Modern Apprenticeship

scheme. 

 

For Roy MacGregor one can only wonder at the emotions he must have

had as the project was announced, no doubt as he looks forward to the

challenges and opportunities ahead he will have reflected back to the

start of his career at the Nigg yard some 40 ago.

 

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