GREEN energy firms will locate where coal depots once stood, will bring wealth by doubling cruise ship traffic, and an aquaculture center will help exploit the seafood potential of the waters along the west coast of Scotland.
Jim McSporran, the new director of Clydeport, praises the “180-degree transformation” underway by the giant maritime gateway to Scotland.
He says Peel Ports, owner of the Hunterston Port and Resource Centre (PARC), is about to put pen to paper on a series of large-scale renewable energy contracts, with companies each taking up to 10 acres on the site, while a new data center cluster will be a technology hub that will also generate usable energy in the port.
Although there are no cruises at present, the intention is to raise the number of sailings to at least 120 from the current 75. “I think we can do it,” said Mr. McSporran.
“I’ve already booked 91 for next year, if the Covid allows it again.”
Plans to build vessels are also underway.
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A veteran of the oil and gas industry, Mr. McSporran has 25 years of experience in the region.
He spent seven weeks as managing director of Streamline Shipping, a multinational logistics firm headquartered in Aberdeen with offices in the UK and abroad, before joining Peel Ports.
One of his duties was during the pandemic to offer vital services to the islands, and “providing vital services to the islands was simply our best,” he said.
He will also assume the duties of the Clydeport Authority and the Ardrossan Port Authority starting in January.
He said, “That’s 480 square miles of waterfront, which is a huge responsibility,” “One day we’re dealing with containers, and the next day it’s getting the whales out of the Holy Loch.”
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While the cruise company of Covid has absolutely stopped, the container company continues, carrying supplies and medicines in.
He also said that in the post-Brexit import and export chain, Clydeport could be considered to play a greater role and help escape the dreaded 7,000-truck congestion at Dover.
“The port communities will still be the same, they will still have to bring products in, maybe there will be different tariffs and taxes, but the products will still have to come in, the trade will still have to happen.”
Taken together, the port’s plans could lead to up to 2,000 jobs being generated, Mr. McSporran said.
“He said, “It’s about our site’s circular economy.
We’re talking to companies who put in renewable energy, and we’re in the advanced stages with a couple of businesses who could take over 5-10 acres, and we’re just going to close those deals.
We’re in the process of building a data provider cluster.
The other thing is that we’re partnering with Scottish Enterprise and North Ayrshire Council on a 20-acre contract, and we’re involved with some of the units as well.
I was in touch with Stirling Uni, Glasgow Uni and UWS, all of whom are really interested in getting involved.
We want to establish an aquaculture center of excellence and then look at the possibility of including the processing of fish. Our seafood is a huge part of the Scottish economy, and we should do better at that, so the center of excellence will allow us to make that happen.
“We’ve been nominated as one of the potential sites for a fairly large company, and we’re looking into that right now,” he said.
“So there’s a lot happening.”
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The King George V Pier, Greenock Ocean Terminal, Hunterston PARC and Ardrossan are Clydeport’s maritime focal points.
The business offers “space, facilities and expertise” to store and process more than 15.4 million tons of freight annually and helps carriers handle thousands of passengers.
We’re looking at projects where we could build boats at Inchgreen,” Mr. McSporran said, “real boats. And with that, we are really close to getting across the line. I can’t, again, name names, but I think that’s coming in the next few weeks, so we’re going to be able to tell people that. And for the town, that’s a major win. We are talking about bringing employment to the area of Clyde, bringing boat building back to the community, apprenticeship programs, about which we are also talking.