Nigg Construction Yard

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Enterprise, Lifelong Learning and Transport – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 22nd March 2007.

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Photo of Peter Peacock Peter Peacock Labour 2:15 pm, 22nd March 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive what it considers the significance of the former Nigg construction yard on the Cromarty firth to be for the economic development of the Highlands and Scotland. (S2O-12467)

Photo of Nicol Stephen Nicol Stephen Liberal Democrat

That strategically important site is of considerable significance for the economic development of the area, not least given its access to deep water and a skilled labour force.

Against that background, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, in consultation with Highland Council, is looking at all available future options that would see the yard return to productive economic use to the benefit of the Highlands and Islands and Scotland as a whole.

Photo of Peter Peacock Peter Peacock Labour

Sadly, those who are involved in the ownership of the site have been unable to conclude an agreement about its long-term future. One of the parties involved has made no significant investment in the site and has a history that has made economic development difficult to secure.

I was pleased to hear the minister indicate that he will do this, but can he confirm that he will ensure that his officials take a close interest in the matter and continue to work with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the council and the local Cromarty Firth Port Authority to seek to secure by whatever means necessary the future use of the yard for significantly expanded economic activity? Further, will the minister undertake to consider any reasonable approach for resources to assist local partners to secure the yard?

Photo of Nicol Stephen Nicol Stephen Liberal Democrat

In short, yes we will. There has already been an approach from the convener of the Highland Council and from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to the First Minister on 15 March. That letter has not yet been responded to, but I can place on record today the Executive's willingness to consider this important issue and try to play a role, in partnership with the others involved, in reaching a satisfactory solution. The issue is important for the whole of the Highlands, and I believe that the public sector can play an important role in making progress on the current problems involving the site owners, Kellogg Brown and Root and the Wakelyn Trust, and on the potential for a deal to be struck with the Cromarty Firth Port Authority. Working with HIE and Highland Council, the Executive is prepared to play a significant role.