Lerwick Port Authority

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Lerwick Port Authority awards contract for harbour's largest dredging project yet

12th December, 2007

Lerwick Port Authority has awarded a contract for the largest dredging project in the harbour’s history, designed to bring a range of benefits to port users and create future opportunities for further development.

The work will be carried out by Hampshire-based Westminster Dredging Company, part of Royal Boskalis Westminster, one of the world’s biggest dredging contractors, headquartered in the Netherlands. Westminster previously undertook major contracts at Lerwick in 1992 and 1997/98.

The £12 million project also includes design and supervision by Arch Henderson LLP, Lerwick, and a payment of over £500,000 to the Crown Estate for the right to dredge, to use the seabed material and acquire seabed. It will be one of the largest marine civil engineering projects to be completed in Scotland in 2008.  The project will be funded commercially by the Authority with bank borrowing. 

Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, Sandra Laurenson, said: “The project will enable access and berthing for larger vessels at the Shetland Catch pelagic factory, wider and deeper access through the north entrance to Greenhead Base and an improved alignment of a new deep-water north channel.  

“This will safeguard the future for the industries located in Lerwick, particularly in pelagic processing and offshore decommissioning.

“The investment will bring significant benefits to port users and Shetland. The fish catching sector and processors will gain, and deeper and wider access will also suit offshore industry vessels which will be able to transit through the port, rather than going around Bressay, while decommissioning barges will be able to use the north entrance, and move through the harbour as required. “

Starting in April, 2008, Westminster will use one of the world’s largest marine backhoe dredgers, together with hopper barges, to remove almost 490,000 cubic metres of good quality materials from the seabed, including rock, with sister company, Rock Fall, from Ayrshire, using a platform to drill and blast harder areas of rock. The project is scheduled for completion in the Autumn.

Most of the material will be used to reclaim 5.8 hectares (14.4 acres) of land to the north of Greenhead Base, creating an additional area for future use in the decommissioning of offshore oil and gas production facilities. The rest of the material will be stockpiled there for later use.

Dredging will be to a depth of 9 metres throughout, a major improvement on the shallower areas, currently at 6 metres’ depth.

An earlier dredging project was abandoned in 2005 after Shetland Islands Council obtained an Interim Interdict from the Court preventing significant parts of the proposed dredging area from being excavated. Following a judgement in January 2007, this Interdict was lifted. 

The cost of abandoning the 2005 project and the increased cost to now undertake the same works exceeds £5.25 million and a claim has been intimated to Shetland Islands Council.

As a result of the increased cost of dredging, some of the works planned have been deferred meantime, including planned improvements to the access to the fish meal factory at Heogan and land reclamation at Arlanda, along with a reduction to the preferred width of the dredged channel.


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