A government minister has praised the impact the £350 million expansion at Aberdeen Harbour will have on the north-east.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson visited the Aberdeen South Harbour expansion project.
The £350m scheme is the largest marine construction project under way in the UK.
During the visit yesterday, Mr Matheson said: “I was delighted to be here at the south harbour development.
“It is a major infrastructure investment which will provide a significant increase in capacity for vessels coming into the north-east of Scotland.
“It will provide additional berthing for vessels involved not only in the oil industry but the renewables industry and the cruise industry.
“There’s absolutely no doubt it will help to boost the north east economy, but the Scottish national economy as well.
“This is a major piece of infrastructure which we’re really pleased to see.”
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Construction on the scheme began in 2017 in Nigg Bay.
Last month, more than half of the caissons – massive concrete units, 11 in total – for the project had officially been laid, since the first one arrived in March.
The final seven caissons are being transported from La Coruna in Spain, and will be floated into position as needed when they arrive.
Meanwhile, the North breakwater at South Harbour has reached its completed length of 640 metres, which will give added protection to the quayside.
Mr Matheson added that due to the expansion, the area could see new types of industry becoming more prominent, such as renewables.
He said: “One of the things the new harbour will allow is renewable offshore companies. At the moment they will very often have to come in by road, but they will be able to come in by ship.
“The size of the berth and the nature of it means that some of the biggest cruise ships in the world will be able to berth here at the same time because of the additional capacity.
“It opens it up to be used for potential new industries in the north-east of Scotland. It will absolutely boost tourism.”
Michelle Handforth, chief executive of Aberdeen Harbour, said: “We are really pleased with the progress made in South Harbour to date, and this summer has been a particularly busy period of activity.
“We are still within the established construction schedule, and will have a clearer picture of a completion date after the summer.
“The South Harbour expansion is the largest port infrastructure project underway in the UK and once open, the combined Aberdeen Harbour will be the largest port in Scotland in terms of berthage.
“We are working very closely with our customers and stakeholders to help them realise the impact that South Harbour will have on their business and the economic benefits it will bring to the region.”
Independent travel agency Ramsay Travel has already unveiled six new routes for the new harbour, which will be operated by Cruise and Maritime Voyages.
They will include trips around Britain, as well as to the Baltic states, St Petersburg, Norway and Iceland.