Mike Vickers' Blog

May 2, 2013

Possible Orkney

Filed under: Business Development, economics, Europe, Scotland — derryvickers @ 6:48 am

A presentation by Graham Hogg and Alex Hobday postgraduates at Strathclyde on Orkney in ?50 years – The last of this year’s Nordic Horizons

First – good that it was held at the Scottish Parliament – lots of MSPs and like bodies attending.

Second I was horrified that what they were proposing was to turn Orkney into an industrial site

A  little detail of their proposal:

  1. A northern city distributed round the Scapa Flow linked by a light rail – Population to grow from current 20,000 to 100,000
  2. Supporting a massive container transhipment port
  3. Providing marine supply and services for marine renewables
  4. A link to the North Sea Power Grid with a connecting point to Iceland geothermal power
  5. Not an instant development – over the next 50 odd years
  6. The north of Orkney to be left alone.

The rationale

  1. Orkney at the cross roads of shipping between UK, Europe and the Far East and America– A European Singapore.  The Far East via the North East passage north of Russia
  2. Scapa Flow ideal harbour demonstrated through two world wars
  3. Marine renewables in the Pentland Firth and further afield
  4. Orkney has always been a stopping off point since the beginning of time
  5. More generally commerce is moving North

The arguments against

  1. Orkney is a green and fertile land – let’s keep it so – products should be food not containers
  2. The bottom has dropped out of the Shipping market
  3. In any case the North East passage to the Far East is dangerous and long.  Ice breaking container ships need nuclear power plants as there are few bunkering points across the north of Russia – ice bergs the size of Jamaica – rum does
  4. The Icelanders have been here before and they recognise if the container port is to come it will be no earlier than 20 years and why not Iceland anyway. Narvik is better situated vis the North East passage

The arguments for

  1. Orkney ideal for servicing the UK east and west by boat at lowest energy cost
  2. Orkney would welcome influx of new people having lost many since WW2
  3. Orkney has the will to drive it forward

Other discussion

  1. A container port of the size envisaged can only be funded by a national government
  2. If only half to go ahead it should be the renewables half
  3. Orkneys ideal as a centre for search, rescue and marine security
  4. What about the Ferries
  5. Marine Cross Party Committee needed in Holyrood – Scotland should renovate its maritime heritage
  6. Control for the foreshore should be rested from the Crown Estate Commission whether Scotland independent or not
  7. The Nordic Council is becoming the Arctic Council – Scotland needs to join.

But thinking again about Orkney – it has been continuously inhabited since 3000 BC – Skara Brae – and the recent digs around the Ring of Brodgar may put the date back still further; so I’m sure that if this development were to go ahead Orkney would still survive as a place to go to see and glory at 6000 years of human history.

So let’s hope the lads get an audience with Alex.

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