It has been a major wartime naval base, an industrial site for the renewable energy industry and an important transport hub for a busy island community. Now Lyness in Hoy could be set for a new lease of life.
The port has been earmarked as a potential base for North Sea oil and gas decommissioning work. DSM Demolition – one of the UK’s leading demolition and decommissioning companies – is going to explore the potential of the site.
The project is in its early stages and the company has been working closely with Orkney Islands Council to carry out initial investigations.
There have been a number of false starts at Lyness, which hosts the excellent Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum, in recent years. Plans to bring the wartime oil tanks – built into Wee Fea hill to protect them from German bombing raids in WW2 – back into use have been spoken about but no project has come forward.
So could North Sea decommissioning bring commerce and industrial activity back to this corner of Orkney? Representatives from Orkney Islands Council certainly think so.
‘This project has the potential to create significant employment, a range of business opportunities for local companies and considerable economic benefits for Orkney as a whole,’ said Council Convener Steven Heddle.
‘There will be a growing demand for oil and gas decommissioning facilities in the years ahead. Lyness and the natural deep-water harbour of Scapa Flow are ideally located to serve as a potential base for work of this kind.’
For its part, DSM believes that Lyness has the capacity to become a base for their activities in the north of Scotland. The skills and resources on offer in Orkney, honed after more than a decade of renewable energy activity, are also understood to be an attractive prospect for the company.
The next steps will see DSM work closely with the Council, local businesses, the local community in Hoy and the wider Orkney population as it develops its proposals.
Representatives will also be engaging with the oil and gas sector to investigate potential business opportunities, as well as undertaking the relevant environmental and feasibility tests.
The great natural harbour of Scapa Flow is a vitally important asset for Orkney, both in terms of tourism and its pristine marine environment, a haven for wildlife and the inshore fisheries industry in the islands. Any development of this size will have to meet stringent regulations to ensure that Orkney benefits as a whole.