There is a growing belief that waters to the north of Caithness could play host to major offshore wind farms comparable in scale to the Beatrice and Moray schemes off the east coast.
Scrabster is being seen as ideally placed to benefit from any expansion following on from the proposed development off Dounreay aimed at testing and demonstrating floating offshore wind technology.
Between six and 10 floating structures could be built under plans being drawn up by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP), a Danish fund management company with a stake in Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (BOWL). Located 10km from the Dounreay site, the development would be an update on the previous Dounreay Trì project. The turbines could have an upper tip height of 192-270m.
Councillors believe it could be a precursor to large-scale developments in years to come – and that Scrabster has the potential to emulate Wick harbour, which provides the operations and maintenance base for the £2.5 billion Beatrice project in the outer Moray Firth.
Councillor Struan Mackie, who also represents Thurso and Northwest Caithness, said: "I believe that floating offshore wind has huge potential for coastal communities.
"The Beatrice project, which uses established technology, has demonstrated significant economic benefit to east Caithness. The development has secured long-term, highly skilled work in the renewables industry both direct and in our local supply chain through Wick harbour and a number of regional fabrication yards like Nigg.
"Without prejudicing any decisions to be made by Highland Council, there is great expectation that floating offshore is well placed to build on what established offshore production has achieved. Our local supply chain is Caithness is highly geared towards complex projects with a workforce with vast experience gained from Dounreay and other renewables project from across the north.
"We are fortunate that we have very active ports in Caithness that are investing in the future and already creating jobs. Scrabster is of national strategic importance to Scotland and the UK. Recent investments by the harbour authority, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Highlands and Islands Enterprise in the St Ola Pier will ensure that the far north is well placed to capitalise on any opportunity that comes forward.