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Tenders sought for £350k Golden Wharf clean-up operation

The Golden Wharf in Lyness. (Orkney Photographic)

Eighteen months since receiving a knock back from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Orkney Islands Council (OIC) is to go it alone, in a £350,000 clean-up operation to rid an area in Lyness of oil.

A public contract works notice has been issued to remove the oil at Golden Wharf, and OIC is now searching for tenders to bid for the contract.

OIC hopes that the operation may finally pave the way for the area to be brought back into commercial use, and transformed into a support base to serve the renewables sector.

This includes ScotWind, the offshore wind seabed leasing programme which allows prospective developers to apply for acreage to build the new generation of offshore wind farms, and other green maritime projects.

The works, part of a remediation strategy, include advancing groundwater recovery wells, and the recovery of oil through the installation and operation of low tide skimmer pumps.

The project will also include transmissivity testing and groundwater monitoring, as well as the decommissioning of the recovery system once the works are complete.

The pollution at Golden Wharf is believed to date back to the site’s former use as part of a Royal Navy/NATO fuel depot.

A pipe spillage is known to have taken place at a time when the site was owned and occupied by the MoD.

The Lyness harbour area was acquired by the council from the MoD in 1977. Subsequent site investigation works were undertaken, and confirmed the presence of oil contamination below part of the area, which falls within the council’s ownership.

However, after writing to the MoD, it was in November 2019 that confirmation came that OIC was unsuccessful in its request that the MoD foots the bill for the clean-up operation.

According to the MoD, the evidence did not support them assuming liability for the contamination.

The ambition to attract new businesses and industries to Lyness, transforming and breathing new life into the area with significant new job creation, has been held by OIC for years.

Its potential and the characteristics the area boasts have been lauded by the authority for some time, but aside from interested glances and preliminary works carried out by companies, nothing has come to fruition.

The last of these was in 2018, when plans to revitalise the area into a decommissioning base to serve the oil and gas industry failed to materialise.