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£200 million Nigg plant is up for planning consent amid noise pollution concerns


By Scott Maclennan

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An artist's impression of the proposed factory. Courtesy: GH Johnston.
An artist's impression of the proposed factory. Courtesy: GH Johnston.

Highland councillors will meet tomorrow to decide whether the construction of one of the biggest buildings ever commissioned on the Cromarty Firth and a key element of the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport gets planning permission.

A special meeting of the north planning committee will consider the bid by Global Energy to erect a massive high-voltage cable factory at Nigg for Sumitomo Electric Industries.

It is a key meeting as the £200 million investment in the project by the Japanese manufacturing giant is expected to deliver around 500 new jobs for the local area in what was the first major contract announcement for the freeport.

There is an increasing demand for trans-national subsea cables so that renewable energy, particularly that generated by offshore wind farms, is able to be delivered to the widest possible customer base.

To do that, Global and Sumitomo want to construct the main plant which will be housed in a large single building (pictured above) with two floors across a total footprint of 43,145 m2.

Its dimensions are that it would be 366.9m by 118.62m wide on the south elevation and the height ranges from 17.36m at the south end to 32.62m at the north end.

An artist's impression of the proposed factory. Courtesy: GH Johnston.
An artist's impression of the proposed factory. Courtesy: GH Johnston.

It also includes: a vertical cabling cooling extrusion tower of almost 45m high and a footprint of 1372 m2; warehouse of 2400 m2; shielding room building of 860.2 m2; large cable spooling drums; and offices and welfare facilities over two floors; road access and parking.

There will also be earth bunds and landscaping; on-site generation and electrical infrastructure; and a moveable cable gantry delivery system across the B9175 road for cable loading to a ship on the east side of the inner dock at the Port of Nigg.

But it has run into objections from local communities on the Black Isle who are concerned about noise pollution above all with an objection submitted by Cromarty and District Community Council.

Laying across the firth from Nigg, the Cromarty district community council (CC) said: “The proposed development does not align with the stated requirements for developments within a Green Freeport Zone.

“The development does not include optimal controls for the mitigation of air and noise emissions generated from berth vessels that will service the proposed plant, against a background of historic noise complaints by residents in Cromarty.

“The CC proposes that a requirement for the provision of shore power be included within any subsequent revisions to this planning.”

Several members of the public endorsed and augmented the community council objection and particularly supported making shore power a condition of planning consent.

Shore power provides electrical power to a vessel at berth allowing its main and auxiliary engines to be shut down – that means there would be less intrusive noise for Cromarty residents.

Another comment left on the application states that industrial noise from Nigg had a “disproportionate effect on the caseload of the Highland Council Environmental Health Team and places an avoidable burden on their budget.”


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