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Caithness News Bulletins November 2004

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Wind Farms      

Could Caithness Wind Turbines Soon Come From Strnoway?

Manufacturing work for the renewable energy industry is to start again at Arnish yard at Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, following the conclusion of negotiations for a new tenant to be based at the site.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Western Isles Enterprise (WIE) have agreed terms with Camcal to lease the facility as part of a multi-million pound project to establish an operation producing steel towers and other equipment for the wind turbine industry.

As part of a partnership funding package, HIE has approved assistance of up to 3.4 million for Camcal, comprising a 1.6 million share purchase and grants totalling up to 1.8 million, including 720,000 from the European Regional Development Fund.

Camcal is also being backed by Scottish Enterprise (SE) and by private equity and investment business Charlotte Ventures, who are each investing 750,000 of equity finance.

The Royal Bank of Scotland and its asset finance business Lombard are providing a structured package of support totalling up to 4 million.

Camcal will lease the Arnish site with immediate effect and start recruiting key staff straight away to work on setting up their operation there. The company expects to create more than 80 well-paid jobs after production starts early next year.

WIE is investing up to 700,000 to further upgrade the Arnish site, including provision of new office and staff facilities, fuel and heavy plant storage and security fencing.

Camcal acquired the operation and assets in Bangor, North Wales, of Cambrian Engineering Ltd (CEL), which leased the Arnish facility before going into administration in February this year.

Operating in a growing and rapidly developing international market, Camcal hopes to build on the experience and knowledge of construction for the renewable energy sector already gained at Arnish and Bangor.

Significant investment by HIE and WIE has seen the Arnish site develop into a modern, multi-purpose industrial park capable of housing several tenants at new serviced sites. The quay has been extended and improvements have been made to the infrastructure, roads and facilities.

The announcement of the new tenant for the site was received warmly by the Scottish Executive.

Jim Wallace, Minister for Enterprise, said: "This is a development which can contribute to the growth of the renewable energy sector in Scotland and is to be welcomed.

"We are determined to ensure this country fully exploits its renewable energy potential. This will boost the economy, provide thousands of new jobs and cut harmful emissions which are damaging the environment."

Donnie Macaulay, chief executive of WIE, said: "We are delighted to have secured a new operator for Arnish. This is a significant step towards our goal of transforming the site into an international centre of excellence for the renewables sector.

"Camcal's highly experienced team have demonstrated skill and tenacity in securing venture capital investment for a manufacturing facility serving the emergent renewable energy market.

"The arrival of Camcal will create important employment opportunities on Lewis and enhance the prospects of attracting other tenants to Arnish.  Identifying business opportunities which bring quality jobs and add value to the island's economy is a priority for WIE."

Phil Smith, managing director of Camcal, said: "We are very pleased negotiations have been successfully concluded. We can now progress with the reopening of Arnish and make it a state-of-the-art facility for renewable equipment fabrication.

"We intend to make an early start on completing the facility and recruiting local staff at Arnish."

David D Murray, a director of private equity and investment business Charlotte Ventures, said the company's investment in Camcal was in line with its strategic aim of assisting high quality management teams grow their business in Scotland.

Mr Murray added: "We see this agreement as an important step for the business and are confident that it will deliver benefits to its customers, staff and the communities in which it operates."

Scottish Enterprise's energy director, Brian Nixon said: "The wind power industry worldwide is estimated to be worth 46 billion over the next five years. This is a huge potential market and the skills and expertise we will be able to develop through this investment will put us in an excellent position to take advantage of this opportunity in the future."