Peel Ports revealed its masterplan for regenerating Hunterston, its mothballed 300-acre terminal complex in North Ayrshire, last Thursday. The plan, out for consultation, predicts a boost of up to £140 million for the economy and 1,737 new jobs in a part of lowland Scotland marked, in recent times, by sustained economic distress and population decline. The site has an industrial history stretching back to the 1970s. It was built next door to two versions of the Hunterston nuclear power stations: A is decommissioned and dismantled; B, not generating because of cracks in its graphite core, is scheduled to end its productive life by 2023. The other Hunterston was originally a British Steel project, an import terminal for raw iron ore, shipped up the Clyde into central Glasgow. It would be taken by rail from a custom-built spur to the big furnaces and mills in Lanarkshire. The site included two large ore reduction towers, but, thanks to rocketing fuel costs, these were never used. They were dismantled and shipped to plants in the US. With the closure of the Ravenscraig strip mill in 1992, demand for iron ore slumped. The terminal found an alternative lease of life, importing cheap coal from all over the world to fuel power stations, such as Longannet in Fife and Drax in North Yorkshire, also by rail. Of the 1,730 jobs projected, almost 60 per cent, or 1,030, derive from one manufacturing project: attracting a train assembly operation, linked with the UK government’s HS2 ambitions, to the site. But, apart from the growing doubts about whether HS2 will ever materialise, particularly if Brexit becomes a reality, there’s a problem. Last November the Spanish-owned Scottish Power signed up Talgo, the Spanish train maker, to build trains for HS2 at its Longannet power station site in Fife, when the station — once so dependent on its coal from Hunterston — is demolished and all the debris cleared. Just how many train makers does Scotland need?
Times 22nd May 2019 read more »