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NDA doubles Wick harbour gate funding

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has announced it will potentially offer up to £1 million to go towards a high-water protection gate to protect Wick harbour from violent storms. The NDA has announced it looks set to double the amount it originally offered to go towards the project to protect the port against storms which have inflicted serious damage at the harbour in recent years.

The funding would provide a third of the cost to go towards constructing the project which is estimated to cost over £3 million. Programme manager Mark Raffle said as part of the NDA's socio-economic commitments to the area it would look to double the amount to go towards the high-water protection gate plans.

He said: "We have previously been supporting Wick harbour to assist them with their high-water protection gate.

"Our funding has now been increased from £475,000 to potentially £1 million."

Dounreay Stakeholder Group (DSG) member David Flear welcomed the announcement that the NDA was going to increase its funding to go towards the project. But at the DSG meeting in Thurso this week, he said with the project valued at £3 million he questioned where the remaining funding was going to come from to make it a reality.

"The development at Wick is a high priority and I welcome the increase from £475,000 to £1 million", he said. 

"But the high-water protection gate is going to cost a lot more than that.

"Are other funders committed to the remaining level of funding required?"

Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership (CNSRP) programme manager Eann Sinclair said a meeting was held with Wick Harbour Authority (WHA) last month to discuss potential support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to go towards the project.

He said talks are ongoing to discuss what funding can be provided to go towards the future construction of the high-water protection gate.

He said: "CNSRP partners met with representatives from WHA three weeks ago.

"We agreed a timetable for HIE to do some assessment work in regards to potential funding."

Mr Sinclair added: "That is happening right now."

Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL) previously committed £110,000 from its social economic fund to investigate the gate being installed in the outer harbour.

Depute First Minister John Swinney announced last year that the Scottish Government was prepared to support plans to increase sea defences at Wick harbour when he met with representatives of WHA while he was on a tour in Caithness.

With Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Limited investing £10 million into Wick harbour as it is constructing its operations and maintenance base at Harbour Quay, the high-water protection gate is seen as a vital project for the future of the port. 

Wick harbour has suffered major damage from violent storms in recent years.

In January 2016, a section of the South Quay was destroyed when huge waves battered Wick over an unprecedented 10-day period.

If the project receives the required funding and approval, it is expected it would take around 18 months to construct the high-water protection gate.

Speaking earlier this year WHA chairman Willie Watt said the installation of the high-water protection gate was the next stepping stone of where WHA wanted to upgrade the port.

Last month, WHA revealed ambitious plans to transform Wick harbour in a £100 million development which would allow it to carry out offshore decommissioning at the port.

Its plans include to build a new quay which would create a nine-metre berth and 12-metre-deep berth to allow them to take up to 100 tonne structures and create an area to take rigs ashore, dismantle them and export recycling materials.

If the plans are successful Wick harbour would eventually have the same size capability of Peterhead.

The upgrade plans have been inspired by the level of interest they have received from companies on how Wick harbour can service the energy sector.

As well as Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd, WHA is also in talks with Moray East Offshore Windfarm, which has consent for a 1116 megawatt venture in the Moray Firth.


Source - John O'Groat Journal