Works to transform a former World War II airbase in Orkney are well underway. Under the project, 6 new units to provide purpose-built accommodation for marine energy developers are to be constructed adjacent to Hatston Pier, Kirkwall, in response to a growing demand for European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) services.
The £2.95m project has been jointly funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The main contractors are Mansell Construction Services Ltd and the architects are Colin Armstrong Associates.
The property development is the result of a partnership between HIE and EMEC to provide high quality accommodation to meet the operational needs of tidal developers in close proximity to Hatston Pier, which is the natural base for servicing activities in the Fall of Warness off the island of Eday.
Construction began in early June and is expected to be completed in mid-February 2012.
The units are of a steel frame structure with part cavity concrete block walls rendered and part eternit wall cladding panels under a mono pitch profile steel panel clad roof. The units are around 2000sq ft each and comprise a large workshop area, office space and kitchen and toilet facilities. The units are designed with flexibility in mind; therefore extra office space can be created if required.
The area will be landscaped to complement the existing surroundings and will also include shared laydown areas and yardage space where developers can maintain their devices. In addition, there will be car parking facilities, along with cycle shelters and a link to the cycle path network.
Project Manager, Harvey Stevenson of HIE, said: “Works are going extremely well. All of the contractors have performed excellently and we have had no significant issues to date. This project has also proved beneficial for the local economy, as local companies have been subcontracted to complete the majority of the work.
“The main challenge of this project was to design a facility that was fairly flexible, which I believe we have achieved. Because of the market we are aiming at, we have made the building as energy efficient as possible – for instance by installing a highly efficient heating system – and the facility is set to achieve a rating of at least BREEAM ‘Very Good.’
“The marine renewables sector is increasingly important in Orkney and a number of companies are now coming here to test the products at EMEC. This facility will provide device developers who are working with EMEC with an operating base for office and workshop facilities within Orkney – facilities that were noticeably lacking before.”
In addition to these new units, Orkney can offer an impressive supply chain of local businesses to support wave and tidal developers. Major investment is also being made in new harbour facilities by Orkney Islands Council, both to meet the needs of EMEC developers and to provide future commercial opportunities under the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters leasing round by the Crown Estate.