Energy North and renewables company WKN AG have hailed the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) process to promote local businesses in the Highlands and Islands to tender for contracts for the proposed Sallachy Wind Farm a success.

Around 20 local companies attended the open day in Inverness on 23 April 2014 and registered with WKN so that they can tender for a share of around £100 million of work from the construction of the scheme if it is given the go ahead.  The PPQ process closed on 31 May and resulted in:

  • 15 companies who filled in a PQQ and sent supporting information to tender for contracts – eight companies were from Inverness or North of Inverness.
  • The companies vary greatly in size from 12 employees to companies who employ thousands of members of staff.
  • Most companies have some wind farm experience but not all companies have worked in the sector, meaning it is a new opportunity for some companies to work in onshore wind.

On offer are contracts for electrical works, geotechnical surveys and civil engineering works such as construction of onsite tracks and turbine foundations as well as various supply contracts.

Although Sallachy is still to be determined as it is a Section 36 application, WKN want to progress the consultations they originally held with local firms in Summer 2012 and are grateful for the companies who took part in the PQQ process in April 2014.  WKN has already written to all companies to thank them for their submission and is now reviewing the PQQs.

The proposed Sallachy wind farm is located on the south-west shore of Loch Shin, northwest of Lairg.  Highland Council ‘raised no objection’ to the scheme in May 2013 and Highland Council’s planning officers found the application to be compliant with Highland Council policy and recommended to councillors to support the scheme.

In October 2012, WKN signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Energy North and North Highland College’s Environmental Research Institute to create a supply side incubator initiative and a graduate training scheme. These employment schemes are in addition to the £8.5 million of community benefit that will be shared between the community councils of Lairg, Ardgay and District and Creich.

If the wind farm is consented, under the incubator initiative, small firms would be given assistance to rise from being Tier three suppliers to Tier two as main sub contractors. In a separate programme graduate placements would be funded with winning bidders through the construction phase for up to 15 months including travel, training and administration costs.

It was agreed when the MOU was signed that this policy would be developed well in advance of construction starting.

Oliver Patent, WKN’s Project Director, said:

“We are extremely impressed by the standard of the submissions and the range of local companies who have taken time to meet us. WKN is committed to using where possible highland based companies for the construction of Sallachy wind farm. If we receive a planning consent we will move quickly to deliver on this project.

“Sallachy represents a £100m investment and WKN wants to use local labour, employed by local companies, as far as possible to directly benefit the local economy.  Contractors will have to demonstrate their experience and awareness in working in local conditions, their ability to work closely alongside the local community and the wind farm’s neighbours to ensure minimum disruption and the ability to take a proactive approach in protecting the surrounding environment.”

Ian Couper, Chief Executive of Energy North, who have more than 200 member companies spread across the North of Scotland, the Highlands and Islands said:

“This has been a terrific opportunity for firms, especially the smaller subcontractors, who in the past have been unable to get near contracts like these.  I would like to thank WKN for their efforts to involve Highlands and Islands based companies and working with local businesses to explain clearly the tender process.”

Rob Gibson, MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, said:

“I welcome this process, it is important as it helps reinforce the local supply chain for renewables. This approach also helps create and maintain employment locally which further strengthens the community.”

This article was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are closed.