Following the recent easing of lockdown Wick Harbour has seen a marked resurgence in business, and enquiries across all areas.
Our Marina reopened to users in July and we have been delighted with the numbers of yachts choosing to visit. The marina continues to be one of our success stories at Wick Harbour and we have just completed a full refurbishment of the marina deck and associated services.
At the end of July/beginning August, 3 shipments of towhead structures were successfully discharged at the North Pier before making their way out to the Subsea 7 Wester Site.
A significant cargo of on shore wind blade and turbines is due into the harbour Aug/Sept. These shipments will be delivered by up to 7 cargo vessels. We recently increased our laydown area on Commercial Quay and this, combined with other areas around the harbour, offers our customers a very useful facility for storage. Often the windfarm sites, for a variety of reasons, may not always be ready to accept the component parts. Harbour storage/laydown is ideal for their requirements which also boosts harbour revenue, in addition to the usual berthing and cargo charges. We also continue to see our usual cargoes of coal, lime and fuel.
The fishing industry nationally has suffered greatly along with many others due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Markets remain uncertain, with the added complication surrounding Brexit negotiations – confidence is not at its highest level at the moment. However, local skippers continue to invest in the industry with 2 new trawlers arriving in Wick post lockdown. It is good see such commitment in uncertain times.
Shellfish vessels and landings remain consistent and an important part of the harbour infrastructure. Fish landings by value are expected to be less than last year mainly due to the pandemic, but hopefully things will improve for this sector in the near future.
BOWL – currently operating their full complement of 6 Crew Transfer Vessels berthed within their leased area. Due to the COVID 19 situation, painting and cleaning operations on the windfarm site have been suspended meantime. Once this restriction is lifted, the maintenance operation will most probably resume Spring/Summer 2021. This should result in the harbour benefiting from a substantial increase in vessel activity as they seek to catch up on their works programme.
DEVELOPING WINDFARMS IN MORAY FIRTH – As work gets underway on the developing wind farm sites, Wick Harbour is dealing with a number of contractor enquiries, some of these having already come to fruition. We already have a base within the harbour set up for one company, with another due to follow within the next few weeks. Both companies have indicated that they will be based in Wick for up to 2 years, whilst construction works take place. One company is presently operating 2 Crew Transfer Vessels but have advised the likelihood is that more will follow. The other is initially intending to have 3 vessels operating from Wick, with more to follow as the project expands.
They have also indicated that crew changes to larger offshore vessels could be facilitated through Wick , with significant numbers of personnel arriving and departing from the harbour on a weekly basis.
We have a high degree of confidence that more business will follow as the windfarms in the Moray Firth further develop and come on stream.
The recent publication of the Marine Sectoral Plan demonstrates that Wick is well placed geographically and commercially to attract future developers to the port. A further strength is the strong skills base within the county.
HIGH WATER PROTECTION GATE
The High Water Protection Gate is regarded by Wick Harbour Authority as key to the port`s future expansion. The gate will in effect allow us to double our safe berthing capacity on a year-round basis, making use of existing infrastructure which is currently not achieving its full potential, due to swell conditions caused by easterly gales.
Currently we are in the process of appointing a consultancy to further assist and develop the business case for the High Water Protection Gate, and the socio economic benefits it will bring to the harbour and the wider Caithness economy.
The opportunities presented by the developing windfarms in the Moray Firth basin are huge for Wick and the north economy. The potential increase in berthing space presented by the HWPG would give the area a fantastic opportunity to provide high value employment, possible new business start-ups, as well as existing businesses benefiting from increased income.