Local companies across the Highlands are being urged to get registered so they can tender for a share of around £100 million of work from the construction of a 66 MW Wind Farm in the Highlands.

The call has gone out from trade body Energy North who are working closely with WKN AG, the German developers of the project, which will see 22 turbines located on the south-west shore of Loch Shin, northwest of Lairg.

The Highland Council backed the proposal in May 2013 when it ‘raised no objection’ to the application. The proposal is currently with the Energy Consent Deployment Unit for consideration but WKN now want to progress the consultations they held with local firms two years ago by inviting them to register their interest and sign a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ). Companies are being urged to register now so that if the wind farm is consented WKN can move quickly to get construction work started.

Back in August 2012 Energy North organised events in Thurso and Inverness so that local contractors could attend, meet representatives from WKN and get an idea of the kinds of goods and services that would be needed during the construction phase.

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, generally subcontractors to subcontractors, to Tier two, main sub contractor. 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: “Now we’re getting close to a decision about the future of the project we want to be ready to start work immediately if we get the green light. That’s why we’re now asking those businesses interested in tendering for the work to register with a PQQ.”

“As a German developer, looking at our first scheme in Scotland, we want to use local labour, employed by local companies as far as possible. Contractors will have to demonstrate their experience and awareness in working in a sensitive landscape, 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.”

The wind farm will have an installed capacity of up to 66 MW, with each of the 22 turbines having a tip height of 125 metres. On offer are contracts for civil engineering works, construction of onsite tracks and turbine foundations, electrical works, geotechnical surveys, a construction management plan as well as various supply contracts.

Commenting on the WKN plan, 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 is a terrific opportunity for firms, especially the smaller subcontractors, who in the past have been unable to get near contracts like these. I would urge any of our members who would like to bid for work to register through the PQQ.”

Rob Gibson, MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, said: “I welcome all renewables applicants having a thorough plan for local engagement and local job creation. WKN sets a new benchmark.”

The Pre-Qualification Questionnaire process is being run by Fichtner Consulting Engineers and companies interested in registering interest and obtaining a copy should contact Emma Rafaluk via email at emmarafaluk@fichtner.co.uk or call 0161 476 0032.

In addition WKN will be holding an informal event in Inverness on April 23 with members of their construction team. Details will be provided to those registering for the PQQ however please contact Alex Newlands on 0141 212 7222 to register for the event.

The deadline for registering and completing the PQQ is May 31, 2014, any submissions after this date will not be considered.


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