Your Questions Answered

We’ve gathered the most frequently asked questions about the Orkney Harbours Masterplan here. If you don’t see your query listed, you can get in touch here.

The Project

Orkney Islands Council, the Statutory Harbour Authority, has overall responsibility for the Orkney Harbours Masterplan.

The Orkney Harbours Masterplan Phase 1 considers the development of five main locations on the Orkney Mainland, with a focus on harbour infrastructure enhancements that will generate additional revenue and attract new business.

The five developments included in Phase 1 are:

  • Scapa Deep water Quay
  • Hatston Pier
  • Kirkwall Pier
  • Scapa Pier
  • Stromness

The exact timing of construction for each of the Phase 1 Masterplan proposals is not yet known. This will be determined over the next six to twelve months and will depend on a range of factors including market requirements, funding, environmental considerations, etc.

There will be a Phase 2 which will consider other harbours and piers around the Outer North Isles, the Inner and South Isle and around the Orkney Mainland.

It is envisioned that the development of Masterplan Phase 2 will begin in late 2021, following the completion of the Orkney Inter Isles Transport Study, which will determine vessel requirements for the Outer North Isles ferry fleet. This in turn will determine what is required of the pier infrastructure on these isles.

Since the initial designs, discussions with industry identified a need for a more comprehensive development to support the offshore wind developments that will come from the ScotWind round of leasing.

The main difference is that the Scapa Deep Water Quay has now moved South of the Deepdale burn and has a larger laydown area and longer quay. There are also some changes at the Hatston Pier development with increased laydown area and addition of a fixed ramp and boat lift.

We consider the Scapa Deep Water Quay as a nationally significant project and that it will be a major hub for the offshore wind sector. To ensure that this project is fit for this purpose the feasibility design indicates the following:

  • 575m of quay at a water depth of 15m at quay edge
  • Behind the heavy lift quays will be 20 hectares of laydown area
  • Total area including the quays will be around 25 hectares
  • Provision of a further extension quay to a water depth of 20m
  • Re-alignment of the existing road between Kirkwall and Holm

The Hatston Pier project is also identified as supporting the offshore wind sector and will have the following:

  • Quay extension of 300m at 10m water depth
  • 7.5 hectares of prime quayside laydown area
  • RoRo fixed ramp, boat lift with potential low/zero carbon ex-pipe fuel connection

For Phase 1, a high-level cost estimate was produced for each of the proposals outlined in the Orkney Harbours Masterplan. At the moment, we’ve adjusted these costs upwards to allow for risks and uncertainties. As the projects progress, and more in-depth information from surveys and design work becomes available, the risks will be reduced, and the costs refined. Our current high-level cost estimates for each proposal are:

  • Scapa Deep Water Quay: £168.9m
  • Hatston Pier: £66.1m
  • Kirkwall Pier: £39.9m
  • Scapa Pier: £15.2m
  • Stromness: £0.8m

Currently, we are seeking funders and will be consulting with a wide range of both public sector agencies and private investors in order to turn the Masterplan into a reality.

Despite the challenges brought by COVID-19, we have continued to work on developing our Masterplan. This has included engagement with a wide range of stakeholders such as harbour users, potential funders and environmental bodies such as Scottish Natural Heritage following Orkney Islands Council approval of the Orkney Harbours Masterplan. We’ve also conducted a pre-feasibility and initial site investigation that might enable a reduction in risk and help us to refine our cost estimates and developed a marketing strategy for the masterplan proposals.

We are currently engaging with the Scottish Government and relevant public sector agencies. The Scapa Deep Water Quay proposal was included in the Islands Deal list of projects which has received funding from the Scottish and UK governments, and we are continuing to ensure that the funding earmarked for this will be secured.

An element of investment called the Scapa Deep Water Strategic Asset, which is based around the new facility we’re proposing at Scapa Deep Water Quay, is one of the accelerated projects contained within the Islands Deal and we expect to secure the funding that was earmarked for this project.

In Phase 1, for the larger infrastructure projects such as Scapa Deep Water Quay, it is expected that this project will be delivered by 2027, hatston Pier will follow within a year or two with the other proposals coming after this in a 3 to 4 year timescale.

How these proposals will be phased is not yet known. A key driver to this phasing will be market requirements. For example, current plans for offshore wind farm developments could see construction commencing around 2027 – 2030. For those sites located in close proximity to Orkney, the Scapa Deep Water Quay is an optimal location for secondary construction, marshalling and handlingactivity. Indeed, the quayside infrastructure would need to be built by 2027 in order to harness this opportunity.

Hatston Pier has been identified as an excellent location for operations and maintenance activity and this will mean that this proposal will need to be delivered once developers have started utilising Scapa Deep Water Quay.

At Kirkwall, the introduction of the new inter isle ferry fleet may impact on the timescale for extending the pier here, particularly if the fleet increases from three to four larger vessels. A timescale for this is not yet known, other than that there is an approximate vessel build time of five years.

At the start of the process we developed a detailed methodology to identify the preferred Masterplan proposals. Since the last update our engineering consultants have produced full feasibility design studies for both Scapa Deep Water Quay and Hatston Pier. Environmental work, such as aviation surveys, have also been ongoing and a new Outline Business Case (OBC) will produced to accommodate the changes to the designs.

The development of an assessment framework which enabled individual options to be assessed against our objectives, outline requirements and other criteria such as national, regional and local policy objectives and an initial Outline Business Case, which was developed alongside the Masterplan, presents a rigorous evaluation of the masterplan proposals in terms of costs, benefits, risks and funding in particular. The Outline Business Case also sets out expectations for job creation, Net Present Value and Gross Value Added. This will be made available in due course.

The project to date has comprised the development of the Orkney Harbours Masterplan Phase 1. This was accompanied by a Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA), Outline Business Case, Market Assessment, Oil and Gas Sector Study and stakeholder engagement; as well as additional engineering analyses, initial site investigations and environmental surveys. These incurred costs will all form part of each project total costs.

Any project like this requires a wide range of skilled contributors to be involved and at this stage the Harbour Authority management team are all involved in some respect as well as our Council colleagues with specialist knowledge.

Fisher Advisory have worked with us on developing the Orkney Harbours Masterplan Phase 1, with Arch Henderson as our advisory engineering consultant and Envirocentre acting as our environmental consultant.

As we move forward through the project timeline, we will be inviting tenders for certain aspects of work as and when required and these will be published in due course.

The Orkney Community

A range of factors prompted Orkney Harbour Authority to commission the development of a harbours Masterplan, with the ultimate aim to transform Orkney’s harbours for the benefit of the community and future generations. The process considered the condition, age and purpose of existing harbour infrastructures, acknowledging the key issues and constraints around these, as well as identifying future opportunities across a wide range of sectors that could be harnessed, all within the context of decarbonisation within the maritime industry and transition away from fossil fuels.

The development of the Masterplan proposals was guided by a set of overarching objectives and outline requirements encapsulating the desired outcomes of the Masterplan. A long list of options was initially developed with substantial stakeholder input and consultation as each option was then assessed against the outline requirements and other criteria leading to a short list of preferred proposals which form the basis of the masterplan. The location, size and design of proposals were considered in detail during the process, with the key aim of addressing the outline requirements. As these evolved in line with industry discussions, the ScotWind process for offshore wind developments came into formation and these fed into the design process.

The vision of the Harbour Authority is to build a truly sustainable business model that is a core economic asset for all of Orkney. Orkney Harbours has a diverse business base and plays a fundamental role in supporting many key sectors in the Orkney economy and across the island communities. However, large-scale investment is now required to enable it to continue and grow this role.

An Outline Business Case was produced in order to better understand the costs, revenues and impacts associated with each of the masterplan proposals: this work concluded that the proposals will have a transformational impact on Orkney’s economy and society, with more than 115 jobs created in the Base case scenario. In addition, there will be a substantial number of jobs created during the construction phase. As the proposals have increased in scale it is expected that the number of jobs created will also increase and this will be detailed in the new Outline Business Case.

Stakeholder engagement has been an important driver in the development of the Orkney Harbours Masterplan Phase 1, with harbour users and key stakeholders consulted in the early stages of understanding the issues, constraints and opportunities associated with harbour infrastructures around Orkney. We hosted workshops and interviews to do this. Once drafted, the Masterplan was subject to a much wider community consultation comprising a tailored range of events and methods for the community to read and comment upon the masterplan.

This process is continuing now, and we will look to take all parties forward through the process with us. The consultation presentation is available on our website and details how we tackled initial community concerns. We have received a large amount of feedback, and continue to do so, the majority of which is positive and very useful as it allows us to answer any concerns people may have.

In short, no. Whilst Hatston Pier will be extended, no additional berths will be allocated for cruise. Instead, the additional berthing capacity will be ring fenced for other uses such as oil and gas, renewables, boat repair and aquaculture.

With an extension to Kirkwall pier, slightly larger cruise vessels could come alongside though a significant increase is not envisaged. Similarly the installation of a cruise tender pontoon at Stromness will facilitate current cruise vessels at anchor by providing a dedicated berth.

The Environment

Any large infrastructure development, particularly in a beautiful location such as Orkney, will have an impact on the environment. As a responsible local authority, we are undertaking a series of species surveys and environmental studies to ensure that we mitigate any impact and offset this. As the brochure highlights, the decarbonisation of shipping and ports is the key narrative that underpins these proposals, as well as the carbon-free future of our industries and community. Tackling decarbonisation is the strand that binds these proposals together by providing infrastructure and knowledge for renewable energy developments around our waters that will allow us to reach climate change targets.

We will also look at the potential for net environmental gain through habitat reinstatement and enhancement. The creation of jobs and securing the future of the community will have a huge socio-economic benefit beyond the physical infrastructure developments with Orkney attracting investment in other areas and continuing to be a place for innovation and a safe and secure place to live and work.

The Royal Oak wreck and war graves site is very important to us all in Orkney. The Masterplan will in no way affect the site, and we have written our proposals with full consideration and due respect of the site.

The Orkney Harbours Masterplan Phase 1 embraces decarbonisation and the transition away from fossil fuels. Oil and gas has been a key economic sector for Orkney over the last few decades but at the same time, Orkney is also at the forefront of decarbonisation and transition to zero carbon fuels such as hydrogen.

The Masterplan proposes the development of multi-purpose infrastructure assets, enabling Orkney to manage this transition effectively. This will allow us to continue generating social and economic benefit from oil and gas activity as far as possible, whilst also ensuring that Orkney continues to be at the forefront of decarbonisation and the renewable energy industry. Scapa Deep Water Quay and Hatston Pier are the optimal locations for construction and operations & maintenance activities associated with offshore wind and, although we expect to see oil and gas activity increase, simply due to the new facilities being available these markets will reduce with the exponential growth in offshore wind and the partnering with the zero carbon fuel supplies will see us on the right path to decarbonisation.

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Kirkewall from the air with snow on the ground Boats docked at Hatston Pier in Orkney Hatston development area