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JGC secures multimillion-pound turbine contract

Stephen Sutherland, Chairman of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, confirms Caithness firm JGC has won a multimillion-pound contract to work on the Pentland Firth MeyGen tidal energy project.

The engineering and technical services specialists will provide the steel structures for the underwater turbines, situated between Stroma and the mainland. Additional staff will be recruited by the firm for the contract, resulting in a significant boost to the Caithness economy.

It is hoped that others in the far north will benefit from the initial phase of the MeyGen contract, which involves the installation of four turbines on the Pentland Firth seabed, with local companies well placed to take on further work when the project reaches its commercial phase. Speaking of the project, Mr Sutherland, JGC Director, says “This is a big one for us and provides a huge opportunity for JGC and for Caithness in general. This is a significant multimillion-pound contract.”

Although the contract is not their largest financially, with regards to tonnage involved it is far beyond anything the firm have taken on before. After a period of planning and gathering of raw materials, construction will be underway in October/November. “If we can prove to MeyGen that we can deliver then I would hope they would find it hard not to consider us in the future,” Stephen told the Caithness Courier, “This is happening on our doorstep and we have to embrace it and we are ready to embrace it. The potential for the Caithness economy is absolutely huge.” The work will be carried out at JGC’s Janetstown site and at Scrabster, where they are currently in negotiations over land-use. The contract should be finished around May or June 2015, but the firm hopes to be involved through to the commercial phase. 
The raw materials for the steel structures will be transported by boat to Scrabster and should therefore create jobs for the port and local haulage firms.
Mr Sutherland says JGC wants to be involved in the design, procurement and manufacture and assembly of the components, as well as the maintenance of the turbines themselves. He notes that the renewables industry has a key role in offsetting the jobs being lost by the decommissioning of Caithness-based nuclear power plant Dounreay.

This comes with the announcement that MeyGen has secured the £50 million funding for the initial phase of the project.
The funding announcement, welcomed by local businesses and politicians, including local MP John Thurso, detailed £10 million worth of the grant funding has been awarded by the UK Government, with the Scottish Government also contributing over £16 million. The Crown Estate invested £10 million and Highlands and Islands Enterprise put forward a grant of £3.3 million.

Chief Executive of the Caithness Chamber of Commerce, Trudy Morris, described the funding announcement as “fantastic” news for the far north. “We are delighted MeyGen has secured its funding package for its phase one development, which is set to create 50 direct and 70 indirect jobs. MeyGen has been a supporter of the Caithness business community through its membership of the Chamber for a few years now, so we are extremely delighted that another one of our members, JGC, has been awarded a significant contract to steel ballast blocks for the company.” Speaking of the hard work contributed behind the scenes, Ms Morris says “We are now starting to see the fruits of this labour and this will give confidence to others. This is part of a much wider picture and the beginning of a new and exciting era for Caithness and North Sutherland.”