Lerwick Port Authority and Shetland Amenity Trust have both received major funding boosts to the tune of a combined £637,000 in the latest round of EU funding.
The LPA will now press ahead with plans to expand harbour services to the north of the Greenhead Base, amid frenetic oil and gas activity in and around Shetland, including the creation of three separate “lay down” sites.
It is hoped the new area will be completed by the middle of next year, with local construction firm Tulloch Developments – which has already completed some drainage and other preparatory work at the south end of the site – set to be awarded the contract.
In all the project will cost £1.3 million, with confirmation on Monday that £515,315 will come from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The remainder will be funded as part of the LPA’s own capital programme.
The energy boom has ensured all of the LPA’s existing facilities are occupied. Its chief executive Sandra Laurenson said she was “really pleased” the application had been successful, providing 40 per cent of the project cost.
“We’ve used most of our industrial land, and this will be used to support a range of energy projects,” she said. “We’ve got no unoccupied lay down at the moment – everything’s full, so this has come at a very welcome time. We’ll get this created over the winter, and ready to meet next year’s offshore projects.”
Meanwhile, the LPA has agreed a deal with Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) to sell them the land for the 12-hectare new power station at Rova Head. In turn, SSE will offer the LPA the chance to acquire the land which houses the existing power plant at Gremista.
One of the three new lay down sites is likely to be let to SSE during construction of the new power station. The other two sites will be made available for short and long term use, primarily with prospective oil and gas company use in mind.
While the new power station may be complete by late 2016, it is likely to be nearer the end of the decade before the old one has been fully decommissioned. Ms Laurenson said the land “does lend itself, because of the foreshore, to expanding seaward once we have control of that”.
The amenity trust’s efforts to protect the isles’ seafaring heritage have also received a fillip in the form of a £121,880 towards its Shetland Boat Building Centre project.
Planning permission has been granted for the trust to build a shed at the Staney Hill where its sizeable collection of boats can be stored, maintained and hopefully expanded.
It is hoped work on the £300,000 project can begin early in 2014 and be completed by the summer. Delighted trust general manager Jimmy Moncrieff said it was something “we’ve been looking at for ages, and it’s taken an awful lot of time to get funding and acquire land”.
In recent years the trust has had to refuse donations of boats because it had nowhere suitable to keep them.
“It’s obviously fantastic news,” Mr Moncrieff said. “It’ll mean that the project will go ahead. It’s to store historic Shetland boats – an awful lot of them have been mouldering away, and they don’t last long. We’ve not been able to accept any boats for years now.
“It’s a place that keeps them safe, pending any restoration, but also there’ll be a workshop there – linking in with putting together a boat-building apprentice scheme [so we can] pass on the boat-building experience to future generations.”
In all, more than 40 projects throughout Scotland are benefiting from ERDF investment totalling £20 million, the Scottish Government announced on Monday.